Busting the Filibuster

Democrats want to force the Senate to quit stalling

Long: CSU Archives/Everett Collection; Thurmond: Time and Life Pictures

Jeff Merkley first came to the Senate as a 19-year-old intern in 1976, in an era before cell phones and C-SPAN, back when the upper chamber still got things done. "I saw legislation in action," he recalls. So he was shocked when he returned in 2009, this time as the junior Senator from Oregon, to find that the world's greatest deliberative body spent very little time deliberating. Merkley says the root of the dysfunction was easy to spot: widespread abuse of the filibuster, the procedural tactic Senators use to block a vote on a bill or presidential nomination.

Now Merkley and...

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