Can We Please Have Filibuster Reform Now?


FillibusterReform_180It was a shameful day when Republican senators, joined by four Democrats, blocked an up-or-down vote on a gun reform supported by 90 percent of Americans and 87 percent of gun owners. It was our best chance to pass any real common sense gun reform in the wake of Newtown. And it was killed by a filibuster.

But it was also a painful reminder that the fate of even modest reform on guns, like expanding background checks, was largely sealed in late January when a rare opportunity to fix the filibuster was killed by Majority Leader Harry Reid and a handful of Democratic senators.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a passionate advocate for gun reform — including a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines — was one of those senators. So was Senator Joe Manchin, author of the compromise amendment that would have led to the historic Senate passage of expanded background checks for gun owners, had it been allowed an up-or-down vote on the floor.

Tell Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Feinstein and Manchin: You bear responsibility for the Senate’s shame in the wake of Newtown. Reconsider your position against reforming the filibuster and fixing our broken Senate.

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In late January, we faced our only chance until 2015 to fix the filibuster, but Senate Majority Leader Reid didn’t act boldly, as he did when he voted — despite his NRA rating — for gun reforms, including a ban on assault weapons. Neither did Sen. Feinstein, who represents the state of California where voters strongly support bills like immigration reform and gun violence legislation — that will live or die based on filibusters. Nor did Sen Manchin, who may not have imagined back in January that he would bravely lead a mini-revolt by a few moderate and conservative senators against corrupting influence of the NRA. Instead, these three senators helped consign the Senate to two more years of gridlock and ultimately to the demise of even the most modest of gun reforms in the wake of Newtown.

In the end of the fight to reform the filibuster, Sen. Reid agreed to a compromised bait-and-switch deal that he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cynically called “filibuster reform,” but which we know did next to nothing to actually fix the filibuster.

It was an epic failure and was the second time in a row Sen. Reid has sold out the American electorate by striking a bad deal with Sen. McConnell instead of pushing for strong filibuster reform when he had the chance.

Had Sen. Reid showed leadership or had hold-out senators like Feinstein and Manchin joined the effort, we could have secured the votes to pass real filibuster reform.

Tell Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Feinstein and Manchin: You can prevent special interests like the NRA from overriding the will of 87 percent of the American people in the future by reconsidering your decision to kill filibuster reform.

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CREDO members helped lead the way in pushing the Senate to fix the filibuster with 212,000 signing petitions and over 14,600 reporting calls to the Senate. In addition to that pressure, dozens of CREDO members met with Senate staffers in 10 constituent meetings we organized on this issue.

When we reported back to our members after Senator Reid killed real reform we wrote:

It was George W. Bush who said, “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

It looks like Sen. Reid got fooled again. But sadly it is the American people who are going to pay the price, so we must recommit ourselves to continuing this fight.

With the failure of the background checks bill it’s clear that it is the American people who are going to pay the price — and they will pay it with their lives.

Sen. Feinstein urged her fellow senators to “show some guts” when her ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines failed in the Senate.

But what will truly fix the senate is if senators like Feinstein and Manchin, and Majority Leader Reid, show bold leadership and finally pass the reforms needed to end the 60-vote supermajority required to pass any bill and get the Senate working again.

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