October 28, 2010
In Daily Show Appearance, President Obama Echoes Harkin Call for Filibuster Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after President Obama’s appearance on The Daily Show last night. During the interview, the President called for filibuster reform. Harkin has been a long-time proponent of filibuster reform. In 1995, when a member of the minority party, he first introduced legislation to reform the filibuster in a manner which would protect the minority’s right to ample debate and deliberation, while ensuring majority rule. Harkin reintroduced his proposal earlier this year and intends to reintroduce it at the beginning of the 112th Congress.
“In his interview yesterday, the President echoed the sentiments expressed by many whose frustrations have reached a new level as the U.S. Senate has become mired in gridlock. The filibuster, once used as an extraordinary tool in the rarest of instances, is now used or threatened to be used on virtually every measure and every nominee. This was certainly not the intent of our Founding Fathers and its abuse is not in the interest of hardworking Americans. Washington obstruction has delayed consideration of, as well as up or down votes on, critical measures like the extension of unemployment benefits, disclosure of campaign spending by corporations, defense authorization and immigration reform.
“President Obama understands these challenges. Having his support in this effort is critical. But make no mistake: this is not a majority party or minority party issue. This is an American issue. One that must be addressed so that American democracy can work as intended.”
Harkin’s legislation would permit a decreasing majority of Senators, over a period of up to eight days, to invoke cloture on a given matter. Thus, Senators would have ample time to make arguments and attempt to persuade the public and a majority of their colleagues, but at the end of a full and vigorous debate and deliberation, there would be an up or down vote on any given measure.