WTF IS A FILIBUSTER AND WHY DOES IT AFFECT ME?
- A filibuster is the use of obstructionist tactics, especially long speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.
- Examples: State Senator Wendy Davis who stood and talked for eleven hours to block legislation for new abortion regulations in Texas or Senator Rand Paul’s nearly thirteen hour filibuster against the use of drones.
A change just passed by the Senate to the Senate rules that will get rid of the filibuster for most presidential nominations. Currently, Senate rules allow any member or group of senators to speak as long as necessary on an issue.
- When the President nominates Americans to positions within the judicial and executive branch, such as department secretaries and federal judges, the Senate must approve the appointees. However, members of the Senate are filibustering these nominations, which can deny them a yes or no vote.
Senator Reid used the “nuclear option” — changing the rules so that the bill would need a simple majority, instead of 60 votes to pass–as a means to alter the filibuster rule.
Why We Should Care
Judicial appointments to the D.C. Circuit court rules on issues that impact the lives of Americans across the country, regardless of where they live, such as cases having to do the balance of powers in the branches of government and decisions made by government agencies affecting health care, national security, and environmental rules.
According to Senator Warren, “In the next five years, the D.C. Circuit will decide some of the most important cases of our time, including cases that will decide whether Wall Street reform will have real bite or whether it will just be toothless.”
Our Time Opinion
Blocking and filibustering nominations are just another example of how of our members of our government refuse to actually govern.