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Senate Rules: How We Got It Done

After months of Republican empty promises and broken agreements and with hundreds of nominations still waiting for a vote, Leader Reid and most Democrats decided that something had to give.

Cloture VotesLast summer, 2 million members of Fix the Senate Now organizations mobilized to make sure the Senate confirmed a full, five-member National Labor Relations Board and leaders for top agencies including Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Now, with the Senate minority again refusing to move forward on qualified nominations to the D.C. Circuit court, activists from CWA, Alliance for Justice, Sierra Club, Common Cause, USAction, Daily Kos, NAACP, UAW, NY Citizen Action, Working Families Party and others again revved up mobilization, with 200,000 members of those groups generating calls and emails to their Democratic senators with the message: "enough is enough, it's time to fix the Senate."

It worked.

Now, CWA President Larry Cohen said that the Democracy Initiative will continue the fight to real reform of the filibuster.

"Senators who want to filibuster should have to talk, for hours, at the minimum, like Wendy Davis did in the Texas legislature. Under the current rules, an individual senator can hold up the Senate's business and deny filibuster cloture without even speaking on the Senate floor. That's not what democracy looks like," Cohen said.

Fix the Senate is a project of the Democracy Initiative, a group representing 20 million members.

What They're Saying

  • "It's now the Republicans who will have to do the persuading. And that's the way it should be. If you are the minority party, it means you have failed to win adequate public support. The burden naturally should fall to you, as the minority party, to argue your case persuasively." - Dallas Morning-News
  • "Today's vote...was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body." - New York Times
  • "That no deal was possible this time shows the depth of Senate dysfunction. It was time to give rule by a simple majority a try." - Newsday
  • "Now a minority of senators will be free to vote against a president's nominees but not to prevent a vote from being taken. That's a victory not just for the Democrats but for good government." - Los Angeles Times
  • "Both parties have abused the filibuster rule over the past decade, but Republicans have raised the abuse to an art form ... We're not fond of invoking the Founding Fathers at every turn, but we think they'd have been on Reid's side Thursday."- San Jose Mercury News
  • "By abusing the filibuster to an unprecedented degree, Senate Republicans brought about the reasonable changes they are now fuming over. Throughout President Barack Obama's administration, Republicans have used the filibuster to keep judicial seats vacant and federal agencies leaderless by denying nominees an up-or-down vote for confirmation. This is contrary to the Senate's constitutional advise-and-consent role, and it erodes the authority of the president."- Tampa Bay Times