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Letters to the Editor: Don’t abolish the filibuster; make using it physically punishing

Mitch McConnell walks with others wearing masks inside the Capitol.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made clear he won’t be shy about using the filibuster to impede the president’s priorities.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Without the filibuster, every majority party bill would be like recent budgetary reconciliations — rammed down the throat of the opposition and without compromise. The Senate filibuster must be reformed, not eliminated (“McConnell wants to use the filibuster to block Biden’s agenda. Here’s how Biden can outfox him,” column, March 7).

Make filibusters an effort that isn’t painless. Return to having senators actually “stand and speechify,” not merely declare a filibuster.

In the 1970s, the Senate started allowing multiple motions to be up for consideration at the same time. Before then, with only one bill under consideration, a filibuster stopped all progress as long as a senator kept talking. In 1964, Southern senators filibustered the Civil Rights Act for 54 days.

Now, with multiple bills allowed to be under consideration, a filibustered bill is simply set aside. That takes no effort. If senators had to work for it, they wouldn’t filibuster as often.

Also, holding up all Senate business would focus everyone’s attention on the bill. After 54 days, even today’s public might take notice. The majority would be pushed to give a little, the minority would have to offer meaningful compromises, or pressure would rise until enough votes are found, as in 1964.

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Make filibusters take effort. They will be used less often but still be available when needed.

Geoff Duane, Torrance

..

To the editor: People warn that if the filibuster is removed or eased, then Democrats will suffer when Republicans take power.

That would only be true if the Republicans were trying to accomplish anything in government. Instead, they focus on dismantling existing institutions. Remember the Obamacare repeal that couldn’t muster 50 votes?

Into the brave new world of majority rule, Republican threats aside.

Steven Pravdo, Claremont

..

To the editor: McManus’ view of the filibuster as a “kind of charming” remnant of a more genteel time misses the true purpose of the filibuster in the modern era. Its purpose was to block civil rights legislation. I recommend reading the excellent new book “Kill Switch” by Adam Jentleson, who was an aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

And from the rogues’ gallery of Democratic senators supporting the filibuster, he has omitted the name of our very own senior senator, Dianne Feinstein.

Cynthia Hart, Culver City


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