Sanders said a talking filibuster — which requires a senator objecting to any legislation or nomination to speak on the floor in order to delay a vote — was necessary because the Senate is seeing is an “unprecedented level of obstructionism and filibustering” from Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had threatened to use the “nuclear option” — changing the Senate rules with a simple-majority vote instead of a super-majority — in order to thwart Republican obstruction to executive branch nominees. But on Tuesday, he announced lawmakers were nearing a deal to avoid the “nuclear option” and hold votes on several of President Obama’s controversial nominees, including those to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Environmental Protection Agency and National Labor Relation Board.
“I am glad the president will finally be able to get some key appointees seated,” Sanders said. “But let us understand that what we’re doing today is dealing with one very small part of an overall problem, which is the dysfunctionality of the United States Senate.”
Sanders argued that Democrats should not give up on the idea of limiting Republicans' ability to filibuster by changing the rules because important piece of legislation will continue to come “to a halt.”
“We don’t vote on issues. What happens is the debate ceases because we don’t get motions to proceed,” Sanders said. “So we don’t vote on a jobs program, we vote on whether or not we can proceed to vote on a jobs program.”
Republicans argue any changes to filibuster rules would diminish minority rights in the Senate, and have warned Democrats that they wouldn’t like the rules changes once they’re in the minority.