Durbin: The Time is Now for Filibuster Reform

Durbin: “I support discussing any proposal that ends the misuse of the filibuster as a weapon of mass obstruction”

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today voiced his support for reform of the filibuster and called on his colleagues to join him in this effort.  Durbin argued that there are many options of reform worth considering, including the “standing filibuster.”

“Today, nearly 65 years after Strom Thurmond’s marathon defense of Jim Crow, the filibuster is still making a mockery of American democracy. The filibuster is still being misused by some Senators to block legislation urgently needed and supported by strong majorities of the American people,” Durbin said. “This is what hitting legislative rock bottom looks like. Today's filibusters have turned the world's most deliberative body into one of the world's most ineffectual bodies.”

Durbin continued, “I have been long open to changing the Senate’s rules to restore the ‘standing filibuster.’  If a Senator insists on blocking the will of the Senate, he [or she] should have to pay some minimal price of being present.  No more phoning it in.  If your principles are that important, stand up for them, speak your mind, hold the floor, and show your resolve… I support discussing any proposal that ends the misuse of the filibuster as a weapon of mass obstruction.  If the Senate retains the filibuster, we must change the rules so that a Senator who wants to bring our government to a standstill endures – at least – some discomfort in the process. We need new rules that actually promote debate.”

Durbin noted that over the last 20 years, the 60-vote requirement has blocked passage of the bipartisan Dream Act – as an amendment or a stand-alone bill – five times: twice in 2007, once in 2010, and twice in 2018.  In each instance, the Dream Act received a bipartisan majority vote, but was blocked by a minority of Senators.  Their opposition prevented the Senate from even debating the legislation.  It was repeated rejections of the Dream Act by a minority of Senators that finally moved President Obama to establish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – better known as DACA – in 2012.

“To our Republican colleagues, let me say:  If you don’t want to see this President or any President impose solutions based on executive orders, shouldn't we be willing to debate the issues at hand and consider actually legislating?” Durbin said.

Durbin concluded, “It’s time to change the Senate rules and stop holding this Senate hostage.  We cannot allow continued misuse of arcane rules to block the will of the American people.  I urge my colleagues to defend American democracy by making the changes needed.”  

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.