Should the Senate Change the Filibuster Rules?

Your feedback on the debate between Sens. Tom Harkin and Lindsey Graham.

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A recent issue of U.S. News Weekly included a filibuster debate between Sen. Tom Harkin, who sees a broken system, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who insists that passing major laws should be hard. Your thoughts: 

Yes, a change is needed, but it won't make Democrats or Republicans happy. The two thirds requirement should be restored and the reconciliation option removed permanently. In addition, anyone conducting a filibuster must be actively speaking at all times, removing the fake filibuster or the threat from the arsenal available.


While I agree with Senator Graham that the purpose of the filibuster is to force compromise on issues of major import, in practical terms in today's polarized and fractured world, it does nothing but preclude any action at all. Blame can be found on both sides of the aisle, however, when compromise and cross-aisle negotiations are seen as acts of treason to one's party. Then the filibuster is nothing more than a political tactic that works against the country's interests. We have too many critical issues that require solutions to allow either party to merely play politics. The lesson of the election in 2008 and the recent elections in late 2009 and early 2010 is that the country is tired of the extremes of both parties. We allow our elected officials to play politics with our futures. Shame on us.

BRUCE GOREN Los Angeles 

In engineering terms, the filibuster acts as a damper. Dampers keep physical systems from overshooting, going too far too fast. It seems quite appropriate when applied to legislation.

RICHARD GIBSON Bonita Springs, Fla. 

Has anyone considered setting a maximum number of times the filibuster could be used by one party during a single session of Congress? I was thinking about the sports rules limiting timeouts. Wouldn't both parties be more cautious about which issues they decided to address with filibusters if they had only three opportunities (or two opportunities) in a single session? After three (or two) filibusters, then the number of votes required to pass a bill would be reduced. Wouldn't the opposition party have to set priorities and save filibusters for the most important issues? Possibly something could finally get done.

M. MCDONALD Houston 

Republicans are only threatening. If [Democrats] are so full of righteous indignation and so sure of the end result, then force the Republicans to filibuster. Call their hand. Make Republicans filibuster, and determine once and for all if the threats are just bluster or real. But to whine about it is absurd. The Democrat milquetoast response now is, "We should change the filibuster rules." The point is this: Play by the rules. You don't change the rules midway through the game when your competition is whipping your butt.

DAVID HAWS Boise, Idaho 

We do not need to change the filibuster rules. We only need for Democrats to call the Republican bluff. A Republican filibuster will be a 24-7 exercise in self-inflicted public humiliation, all recorded and broadcast by C-SPAN. I look forward to it. I am just disappointed that Democrats keep letting me down.