Merkley: We Have Just Begun the Fight for Filibuster Reform

Washington, D.C. –
Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley’s proposal known as the “talking filibuster,” that would have required Senators to remain on the floor in order to block legislation gained 46 votes in the Senate today, short of the two-thirds required, with five Senators absent.  Merkley released the following statement after the vote:

“In the last two years, we’ve seen unprecedented obstruction that has repeatedly brought the Senate to a standstill and hampered all branches of government from functioning.  Hundreds of executive and judicial nominations never saw the light of day.  We didn’t even pass a single appropriation bill last year.  Senators have silently blocked legislation from being debated and have stood in the way of the American people’s agenda without needing to explain themselves.

“While I’m disappointed that stronger rules reforms did not pass today, we have come a long way in a very short time. With the leadership of Senators Tom Udall and Tom Harkin, we brought this issue to the forefront.  And while we did take some steps forward in reforming the Senate rules today, there is so much more work to be done. 

“We now have forty-six senators on record supporting making the filibuster real.  We will build on that support in the future to restore deliberation to this chamber.  Until the Senate returns to being a deliberative body where debate is encouraged and obstruction is rare, I’ll continue waging the fight to make the institution serve the American people the way it ought to.”

In addition to Merkley’s “talking filibuster,” he also proposed a package of reforms with Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), and Tom Harkin (D-IA), that would have increased transparency and encouraged debate in an institution where obstruction and dysfunction have reigned supreme.  That package garnered 44 votes.