Another Weak Compromise on Senate Rules Reform


CWAers deliver petitions around Capitol Hill.

Below: Petitions are delivered to a Senator's office. Fix the Senate Now gathered nearly 1 million petition signatures.


The incremental improvements in a soon-to-be finalized Senate rules reform deal do not go nearly far enough to deliver meaningful change, transparency and accountability. The Senate has once again missed an opportunity to curb the chamber's abuse of the filibuster and end obstruction.

"This deal is a missed opportunity to move forward or even ensure debate on the critical issues facing our nation," said CWA President Larry Cohen.

"In recent years, the Senate has failed to discuss, debate, or vote on measures that affect jobs, workers' rights, health care, campaign financing, immigration, and the list goes on and on. For members of our union, and progressives throughout the nation, the failure to enact substantial reform of the senate rules almost guarantees that for two more years, there will not be effective debate, discussion or voting on even the critical issues that the Obama Administration has outlined.

"The changes proposed may well make the Senate more efficient when it comes to nominations, including the record number of judicial vacancies. But, the Democracy Initiative that CWA helped launch must continue at full speed. The toxic combination of senate rules, money and politics, obstacles to voting rights, and no path to citizenship for millions of immigrants all add up to continued control by the one percent, and a declining standard of living for the rest of us. Today, we are more committed than ever to building a movement for real change."

While there may be provisions that will help with streamlining certain nominations — a potentially significant step forward — the agreement avoids measures that would actually raise the costs of Senate obstruction. Neither the talking filibuster provision, nor the shifting of the burden to the minority to supply 41 votes to keep a filibuster going is expected to be included in the final package. And important details remain unresolved, such as potential conditions attached to the elimination of filibusters on the motion to proceed.

CWA played a significant role in an unprecedented mobilization on this issue. Enormous work was done by the union's legislative, communications and political departments, and LPATs. CWA succeeded in making it the public issue it needs to be. Together with CWA's progressive partners in the Fix the Senate Now coalition, activists sent over 2.5 million emails to members on the importance of fixing the Senate, leading to 100,000 phone calls and nearly 1 million petition signatures delivered to Senate offices.

The tireless advocacy of reform champions Sens. Tom Harkin, Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall was courageous and we were honored to stand with them.