Gov. Abercrombie appoints Lt Gov. Brian Schatz to fill the seat of the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (photo courtesy Gov. Abercrombie)
Gov. Abercrombie appoints Lt Gov. Brian Schatz to fill the seat of the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (photo courtesy Gov. Abercrombie)

Hawaii’s newly appointed U.S. Senator Brian Schatz is supporting a highly controversial proposal called “filibuster reform” that being pushed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

The proposal gives Reid final say on all legislation, with three other Senators also having so called “super powers.”

Heritage Foundation experts are calling this legislation “terrible” and maintain it will “turn Majority Leader Harry Reid into a tyrant.”

However, newly appointed U.S. Senator Brian Schatz said he backs the legislation, calling it common-sense measure that will increase Senators ability to do the people’s work.”

In a report today, Heritage outlines the three major problems with the legislation:

  • Instead of needing 60 votes to stop debate on a contentious issue, the Senate would need 51 votes;
  • Four “Super Senators” are the only ones who could offer amendments to legislation;
  • The Majority Leader would be the only one who could add an amendment after debate is finished.

Schatz argues the legislation “protects the right of every member to be heard and the rights of the minority,” while also pushing Senate business along.

“In the past six years there were 391 cloture motions filed; there was just one during the six years during which Lyndon Johnson served as Senate Majority Leader.  This has to change, and the reforms being proposed by Senators Harkin, Lautenberg, Udall, and Merkley are common-sense and will increase our ability to do the people’s work,” Schatz said, maintaining the filibuster system “should continue to be refined.”

But Heritage experts counter the legislation is “dangerous to everyone not represented by Harry Reid” and point out “It’s such a bad idea that even Reid himself argued against similar changes—when he was in the minority.”

The Heritage experts note in 2005, “Reid was a strong defender of the minority party’s right to filibuster legislation and slow the progress of bills” and even then Senator Barack Obama opposed the change.

Reid said then: “One of the good things about this institution we have found in the 214 years it has been in existence is that the filibuster, which has been in existence since the beginning, from the days of George Washington…in all the political writings about filibuster, that is one of the things they talk about as a positive. It forces people to get together because sometimes in this body you become very fixed.”

Then- Senator Barack Obama agreed in 2005: “What [the American people] don’t expect, is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet…everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster—if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate—then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.”

But Schatz said in a statement on Wednesday: “This is a matter of great importance both to the Senate and our entire nation as it will impact not just what becomes law during this Congress but what is enacted well into the future.  I take seriously my decision and appreciate the thoughtful efforts in recent years to improve Senate rules.”

 

 

Comments

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8 COMMENTS

  1. It stands to reason that Schatz, a long time Hawaii legislator, would see this handover of Senate power to 4 super senators as a so-called 'reform,' (in truth it is a regression to a less democratic form of insider oligarchy). He's accustomed, in Hawaii, to a very small group of insiders making un-reviewed changes to legislation at the last minute, and a 'whipped' majority caucus generally going along with that non-transparent leadership, Chicago, Vegas and Hawaii combine to attempt to undermine one of the oldest and most revered institutions of democracy, turning it into, not a collegial fraternity of equals who deliberate at length and make decisions slowly, but a tiny cabal of insiders who can 'get the people's business done' without amendment or debate upon the final form they choose! Interesting that it is the Democratic party that likes these non-democratic, un-transparent, oligarchic forms: no amendments except from the 4 super senators???. Our form of government is, yes, supposed to be responsive to the people, but the Senate is set up to ensure that current popular opinions do not readily sway legislation and that the minority is persuaded, not railroaded. Yes it can slow things down. But a fast-moving government is not what we're equipped with, and for good reason.

  2. Legislators who have learned their craft in Hawaii obviously have no ability to work in a 2 party system. They are used to just making a deal with their fellow democrats and getting their bill passed. It is much more difficult to actually have to work with another party that has just as much a right to their opinion as the democrats. Schatz is a perfect example of the flawed ideology of Hawaii democrats. It's too bad that Gov. A… forced the country to endure such a mindless ideologue.

  3. It appears it will remain this way….voters just have no idea what they have done. July 4th, 1776, brave Americans declare "Independence Day" and fight a war for their freedom. November 6, 2012, duped Americans, without so much as a slap fight, willingly vote that freedom away, essentially declaring…"Dependence Day".
    More simply put, that November date will eventually be recognized in history as the day freedom, and America ended. You see…newly coronated King Obama was successful, he got you to vote for his "fundamental transformation"…from America to a Socialist/Marxist State…governed by tyranny. Nothing was learned from history. America had more than its' 200 years. "USA"?…it would now better stand for "Uninformed Socialists of America".

  4. Hand picked by Schlemeal Blabbermouthy what do you expect?

    Do you guys know that Obama got a ringing endorsement from the CPUSA again for the election?

  5. Liberals will never be shocked that the CPUSA endorse Obama on given policies or agenda. It's because Liberals agree with much of Marx's teachings

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