Sisters and Brothers,
As you are well aware, the United States Senate is broken. The filibuster is a primary tactic that is used to stall legislation. “Filibuster” refers to any attempt to block or delay Senate action on legislation by debating it at length or among other things offering numerous procedural motions.
Historically, the filibuster was used on a limited basis. For the six year period beginning in 1955 that Lyndon Johnson was the Senate Majority Leader, there was only one time the Senate had to vote to overcome a filibuster, this is also known as a cloture vote. For the six year period beginning in 2006 that Harry Reid has been the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate has taken a cloture vote nearly 400 times in an attempt to overcome a filibuster. In order for a filibuster to end, 60 senators must vote for cloture. This is an extremely high bar which has resulted in many worker friendly pieces of legislation and worker friendly presidential appointments being stalled in the Senate.
The filibusters to recent legislation and appointees can be referred to as “silent filibusters.” Under current Senate rules, no speaking or effort is required to filibuster. During the filibuster, the public sees the Senate as totally inactive. There are currently several different Senate rule reforms affecting filibusters proposed. The one that has the most potential for being effective is the “Talking Filibuster Proposal.” This proposal would require the member filibustering or supporters of the filibuster to speak continually to block or delay Senate action. This type of filibuster was used successfully, sparingly, and appropriately for decades before the silent filibuster of today which is over used to create deadlock that results in harm to the American people.
I am asking you to lobby your elected officials in support of the talking filibuster proposal. The following links take you to a page where you can enter your address to determine who your Senators are and then you can email or call them to express your support for the talking filibuster. For your convenience the Political-Legislative Affairs Department has already drafted an email regarding this issue for your Senator that you may choose to send as-is or edit as you see necessary. It is extremely important that we act now, as the Senate will set its rules in January for the entire session. January will be the only chance we have at changing the rules and implementing a talking filibuster.
If you have any questions about this important reform to get the Senate working again, please do not hesitate to contact IBEW Political-Legislative Affairs at (202) 728-6046.
Thank you in advance for your action on this issue.
Edwin D. Hill
International President, IBEW