Senate Honchos Water Down Filibuster Reform

Lawmakers won't have to talk, like Jimmy Stewart did
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2011 12:40 PM CST
A screen grab from 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,' with Jimmy Stewart.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – A bid to overhaul the Senate's filibuster rules appears to have fallen short of the mark. Instead, lawmakers are expected to approve a set of modest changes in coming days as a compromise, reports the Washington Post. Some Democratic lawmakers wanted to require senators to actually stand and talk the entire time—as in Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, a reference they cited several times in arguments, notes the Hill. (Or in a more modern example, Bernie Sanders' recent rant.)

Instead of a "talking filibuster," the new rules will likely put an end to stalling tactics such as forcing clerks to read the complete text of the bill. They'll also make it harder to block legislation or the approval of nominees anonymously. “Well, anything is probably better than what we have now, but the question is, do you take a couple little baby steps that don’t really get to the heart of the matter?” Sen. Tom Harkin asks Politico. "That’s what I consider most these to be, small baby steps."

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