Dems Should Embrace a Health Care Filibuster
Open, Senate debate is preferable to backroom negotiations
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2009 1:07 PM CST
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. pauses during a news conference to highlight the continuing commitment to support our veterans, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

(Newser) – The Senate is broken, writes Steven Pearlstein, its members so mired in dysfunction they don’t even realize how undemocratic current legislative practice is. The mere threat of a filibuster is enough to kill a bill, a fact that "violates the letter and spirit of the US Constitution." In the quest for the almighty 60 votes, health care legislation will be decided in back-room negotiations, not, as the forefathers intended, through open discourse.

Pearlstein suggests that Harry Reid opt out of this de facto minority rule—invite the filibuster, "break out the cots" and declare a real 24/7 floor fight. Don't bother coddling "weak-kneed centrists like Ben Nelson or self-righteous egotists like Joe Lieberman," he writes in the Washington Post. "If they have suggestions for improving the bill, let them do it the old-fashioned way: propose an amendment on the floor and see if they can get 49 other senators to agree."