Loretta Sanchez: Don’t touch the filibuster

SAN JOSE, CA- Loretta Sanchez, a candidate for U.S. Senate, says she does not support reforming or eliminating the filibuster, a tactic senators can use to single-handedly block or prolong a legislative action.loretta sanchez 2

It is said that the filibuster — a procedural tool that blocks a vote — protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority. And Sanchez, a Democratic congresswoman from Orange County, knows what it’s like to be in the out-of-power minority, as she currently is in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where majority rules.

“In the House of Representatives, I’ve seen what it is to have a lop-sided, winner take all system, and it hasn’t benefited Americans,” Sanchez said in an interview at the California Democratic Party Convention.

Reform efforts

The filibuster refers a long-standing Senate tradition. While it’s changed over the years, in modern times it usually means blocking the 60-vote threshold required to advance a bill.

There is also a standing filibuster — made popular in the 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” — where a Senator holds the floor as long as he or she is standing, thereby delaying action on a bill. The standing filibuster is rarely used nowadays though.

In 2013, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reduced the 60-vote threshold to a simple majority on most presidential nominations, excluding those for the Supreme Court.

Republicans in the House of Representatives, and a few in the Senate, have been calling for more filibuster changes as Senate Democrats have used the procedure to block legislation and gain leverage (the same thing Republicans did in the minority) — like forcing a budget deal at increased spending limits last year. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has so far been reluctant to change the rules further.

“When you’re in power in the Senate, you don’t much like the filibuster,” said Sanchez. “But when you’re out of power in the Senate, all of a sudden it’s your good friend.

Sanchez’s top opponent, Democrat Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general, has not responded to requests for comment.

History

It’s changed over the years. It was largely the standing filibuster before, where a senator could hold the floor as long as they could stand up, delaying a vote on a bill.

The longest standing filibuster was in 1957, when Strom Thurmond, a southern Democrat, held the floor for 24 hours and 18 minutes in opposition of the Civil Rights Act.

A few years ago, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, spoke for more than 21 hours straight. However, it technically wasn’t a filibuster because it didn’t delay a vote. Cruz had arranged an certain amount of time with Reid, and ended when he was supposed to.

3 comments

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  1. tmaddison
    tmaddison 28 February, 2016, 07:57

    Loretta Sanchez is a prime example of what’s wrong with our Congress – the unwillingness to actually “get something done”, particularly if there’s any risk at all that it might negatively affect their party (regardless of how it works for the American People.)

    What they’re calling the “standing filibuster” here – which was, for decades, just called “the filibuster” – makes sense. If someone feels so strongly about something they’re willing to invest real time into their opposition, they should have a way to do that.

    HOWEVER, the idea that someone can just say “I’m thinking I’d like to filibuster” and block legislation without actually DOING anything is absolutely wrong.

    Our system is designed (written into the Constitution) that in most cases 50%+1 is all that is needed to pass legislation.

    Certainly a President can veto, and it then takes 60 to override – but that’s THE WAY IT WORKS.

    This Wimpy Filibuster rule is simply that – a rule. It can be changed by Congress with a simple majority rule.

    Any time a Democrat says “we can’t pass legislation that we feel is important because the Republicans will filibuster it”, remind them that the ONLY reason they can’t pass that legislation is because – during the many times they’ve had majorities in the last few decades – they have deliberately NOT changed the filibuster rule.

    That is THE ONLY REASON THEY “can’t govern” – not because “those nasty Republicans block everything…”

    Because having this rule in place gives THEM the ability to block anything when they’re in that position, and also gives them “cover” for everything else.

    “We couldn’t pass that because we couldn’t get 60 votes” works really well with the Great Uniformed who do not understand what that really means is “we couldn’t pass that because we consider it more important to cover our rears than to actually govern this country….”

    Reply this comment
  2. InYerFace
    InYerFace 28 February, 2016, 09:55

    The filibuster (FB) should stand. As I recall it was not that long ago that Sen Reid, a little horrid cocky man (who is most likely clinically insane or maybe he just likes pretending like he is) tinkered with the FB. I forget the details, but I’ll Google them shortly and refresh my memory. For now I agree with Sanchez, and agreeing with anyone left-of-centre is rare for me. Really rare. The Founders were smarter by an order of magnitude than any pol alive with few exceptions, and generally that’s why I agree with Sanchez. If our present pols tinker with the FB any more it will be to the detriment of the citizenry and that’s who I care about – NOT our routinely vapid pols.

    Reply this comment
    • tmaddison
      tmaddison 28 February, 2016, 11:02

      Please point out what the filibuster has to do with the Founders.

      I agree with you – they did design a good system, that’s why it didn’t include the filibuster.

      And, your comment that “for now” you agree with Sanchez is exactly what the problem is.

      We agree with things that make no sense from an objective viewpoint IF they agree with our political aims at the moment – without any consideration for whether they make sense in the big picture of things.

      Your “for now” is exactly that. You’ll be saying the exact opposite when Republicans use the filibuster against the Democrats, at which point the filibuster will be a travesty and something that needs to be changed right away…

      If only people like yourself could recognize when something is wrong even if it does happen to benefit your party this minute – the US would be a better place.

      Reply this comment

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