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Bust the filibuster

Barbara A. Mikulski

There's a stricture in our structure. Our government isn't functioning the way it's supposed to, for the benefit of its citizens, for two reasons: a small number of extreme obstructionists; and a large number of feckless Senators reluctant to correct the filibuster system ("Dems threaten filibuster limits," July 12).

The rules for the Senate filibuster are at the heart of the problem. If used responsibly, and traditionally, a real filibuster (where senators stand and argue their case without time limits) can protect the right of a minority to be heard on a matter of national concern. But when used as a partisan or ideological weapon to prevent the execution of constitutional duties or the implementation of laws (as some Republicans are doing now, and Democrats did in the past), the current filibuster system becomes antithetical to democratic governance and is bad for America.

When the American people elect their president they expect him or her (Democrat or Republican) to select a management team to implement the nation's laws and policies. Political gamesmanship that prevents this, and a prompt up-or-down vote on judicial appointments by means of a supermajority of 60 votes, should not be tolerated. Nor should the threat of reform be used only to achieve a watered down, semi-dysfunctional compromise with those who put their own political ambitions above national interest.

In response to those senators content with the current dysfunction who cite the tired "slippery slope" argument against reform, Sen. Barbara Mikulski gave her own Yogi Berra rebuttal: "Slopes are slippery. That's why they call it a slope."

Fix this problem today and face tomorrow's tomorrow.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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