Merkley, Udall Call for Bipartisan Dialogue to Restore Senate’s Ability to Operate Effectively

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to invite all U.S. Senators to begin a conversation on how to restore the Senate’s capacity to effectively do the people’s business.

In their address, the Senators highlighted how the current Senate procedures inhibit the Senate’s ability to pass legislation and have harmed the institution’s reputation as the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”

“In 2015, it’s become clear that the frustration with the broken Senate is a bipartisan, equal opportunity frustration,” said Merkley. “Democrats and Republicans today have something deeply in common – a common interest in fixing the broken Senate. We need to work together to restore the Senate, and I invite all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me and Sen. Udall in this dialogue.”

“I support any senator’s right to oppose bad legislation, but abusing the Senate rules has only served to hurt the American people. We still need common-sense reforms, like a talking filibuster: if you want to filibuster, you should have to go to the floor and make your case,” Udall said. “Americans want a government that is fair, that is reasonable and that works. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure the Senate works for the American people again. I’ll keep pushing for these changes no matter who is in the majority.”

The Senators noted that Senators of both parties have experienced near-universal frustration with the Senate’s operation over recent years, including frustrations for members of both the majority and the minority and under leadership of both parties.

They pointed out that with control of the Presidency and the next Congress up in the air, the next year presents an open opportunity for Senators to figure out a path to improving the institution without disadvantaging either political party.

The Senators reiterated proposed solutions to make the Senate work better – such as making it easier to get onto bills, improving the amendment process, and requiring a talking filibuster – and also invited their colleagues to put forward new ideas and begin a bipartisan dialogue about how to make the Senate work better regardless of politics.