Warren: Those Darn Senate Republicans Won’t Stop Filibustering, and I’m Going to Washington to Stop Them

Posted: Nov 17, 2012 11:00 AM

Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren (MA-D) -- who defeated Republican Senator Scott Brown by a whopping seven percentage points earlier this month -- has recently penned an op-ed in the Huffington Post criticizing intransigent Republican lawmakers in the Senate for abusing the filibuster procedure, vowing to make filibuster “reform” her first order of business on Day One. Keep reading:

When I'm sworn in just a couple of months from now, I want to fight for jobs for people who want to work. I want millionaires and billionaires and Big Oil companies to pay their fair share. And I want to hold Wall Street accountable.

But here's the honest truth: we'll never do any of that if we can't get up-or-down votes in the Senate.

Remember Jimmy Stewart's classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? I love that movie. That's what most of us think of when we hear the word "filibuster" -- a single passionate senator speaking for hours about legislation they fiercely oppose until they literally collapse with exhaustion.

But that's not what today's filibuster looks like. In reality, any senator can make a phone call, say they object to a bill, then head out for the night. In the meantime, business comes to a screeching halt.

Senate Republicans have used this type of filibuster 380 times since the Democrats took over the majority in 2006. We've seen filibusters to block judicial nominations, jobs bills, political transparency, ending Big Oil subsidies -- you name it, there's been a filibuster.

There is, of course, an important point to be made here: First of all, go back and read Guy’s piece about why Republicans are filibustering hundreds of bills in the first place. (Simply put, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has -- time and again -- refused to let Republicans offer amendments to legislation being debated in the upper chamber; indeed, it’s their only recourse in some cases, as the GOP Senate leadership has already pointed out.

Meanwhile, on a completely separate note, this infuriating little nugget also caught my eye:

I learned something important in my race against Senator Brown: voters want political leaders who are willing to break the partisan gridlock. They want fewer closed-door roadblocks and more public votes on legislation that could improve their lives.

On the first day of the new session in January, the senators will have a unique opportunity to change the filibuster rule with a majority vote, rather than the normal two-thirds vote. The change can be modest: If someone objects to a bill or a nomination in the United States Senate, they should have to stand on the floor of the chamber and defend their opposition.

I'm joining Senator Jeff Merkley and six other newly elected senators to pledge to lead this reform on Day One, and I hope you'll be right there with us. Our campaign didn't end on Election Day -- and I'm counting on you to keep on working each and every day to bring real change for working families. This is the first step.

Seriously? Did Elizabeth Warren just suggest that the principal reason she was elected to the United States Senate was because voters want bipartisan leadership in Washington? This is complete and utter nonsense. Lest we forget, her opponent, outgoing Senator Scott Brown, is perhaps the most bipartisan Senator any constituency could ever ask for. During his years in the upper chamber, for example, he voted with Democrats almost as many times as he voted with members of his own party! Thus, if Massachusetts actually wanted an independent voice to represent them on Capitol Hill -- that is, a leader who could effectively break through the “gridlock” and work across the political aisle -- Scott Brown wouldn’t be heading back to Wrentham in January. Instead, the Bay State electorate (by a stunning margin) chose to replace him with a far-left liberal ideologue whose distinguished record of bipartisanship -- I suspect -- will fall far short of her predecessors by the time she leaves public life.