Saperstein: “While the compromise fails to address the unprecedented increase in the use of legislative filibusters, we are hopeful that this debate served as a wakeup call to the Senate. Abuse of the filibuster serves neither the interests of the chamber nor the American people.”
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 27, 2011 — In response to a compromise brokered between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today, Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have brokered a compromise that, though imperfect, eliminates some of the most egregious obstructionist tactics that have become common practice under Senate Rules in recent years. Eliminating secret holds will significantly restore transparency and accountability to Senate debate and greatly expedite the legislative process, a principle we have long encouraged. We have long held that presidents should be given more leeway to appoint people who represent their views and in whom they have confidence. So, filibusters for executive appointees ought to be reserved for appointees raising issues of fundamental principle, and the decision today reduces the number of executive nominations that are subject to filibusters. Ending the delay tactic of reading aloud amendments will also free up the legislative calendar, allowing the Senate to work more efficiently. Importantly, the agreement ensures that the filibuster will continue to be a vital tool of the minority and a means of expressing opinions that might otherwise be excluded from the legislative process.
While the compromise fails to address the unprecedented increase in the use of legislative filibusters, we are hopeful that this debate served as a wakeup call to the Senate. Abuse of the filibuster serves neither the interests of the chamber nor the American people. To that end, we hope that Senator Reid will take seriously his promise to extend the minority more opportunities to offer amendments and that Senator McConnell will uphold his commitment to limit the practice of filibustering motions to initiate debate on legislation. Good faith attempts by both sides will further the cause of bipartisanship and civility and improve the Senate’s ability to do the work of the American people.