Durbin Calls for Change to Filibuster Rule

Before speaking to New Trier Democratic Organization, Illinois Senator tells Patch he would like to make it harder to block legislation.

Frustrated with Senate Republicans blocking a Democratic majority of 51 senators from passing , said he's willing to change the filibuster rule to require dissenting legislators to speak continually against a bill. 

Durbin expressed his wish to return to the pre-2005 filibuster requirements before keynoting the annual dinner Sunday in Northbrook, where more than 250 people gathered to hear his remarks.


“If the Republicans are willing to interrupt the business of the Senate and bring it to a halt, they should be willing to interrupt their dinner plans,” said Durbin, the Senate majority whip.

Unable to pass the Jobs Act despite a majority of 51 senators in favor, Durbin explained to Patch he and his colleagues would reassemble the legislation into a law that can muster the 60 votes needed for passage.

“The filibuster kept us from passing the entire bill,” Durbin said. “There is opposition to certain parts. We will have to create a bill that can pass so we can have some parts (of the American Jobs Act).”

Before 2005, senators wishing to filibuster to keep a majority from voting had to stand and speak on the floor. Some speeches stretched more than 24 hours long. Since 2005, senators merely vote to see if 60 members will allow a roll call for passage. No speech is necessary.

During his talk, Durbin criticized Republican efforts to stifle the President’s effort to jump-start the economy and create jobs, even though they supported most parts of the proposal when it was part of the agenda of former President George W. Bush. 

“When we called the jobs bill in the Senate not one Republican voted for it,” Durbin said. “The bill contained many things they have supported before. They won’t support if when it is the proposal of President Obama.” 

Durbin explained the opposition stemmed from Republican concerns about how to pay for the proposal to create jobs by improving schools and developing other infrastructure in the country. 

“It would be paid for by a 5.6 percent income tax surcharge on people earning more than $1 million,” Durbin said. “Don’t take my word for it. We have an economist here,” he added pointing to Nobel Laureate Roger Meyerson of Wilmette who was attending the event. 

“I’m with you,” Meyerson said as he pointed his thumb up. Meyerson, now a professor at the University of Chicago, won the 2007 Nobel Prize in economics while a faculty member at Northwestern University. 

Durbin cited polling that shows 56 percent of Republicans are in favor of taxing millionaires to promote job creation. “Not one of them is a senator or House member, he said. “They have lurched from one doomsday scenario to another to shut down the economy.” 

Introducing Durbin to the crowd, talked about Durbin’s leadership on environmental issues and their relation to job creation in today’s economy. 

“It was Dick Durbin who took on those battles and won,” Schakowsky said. “It’s not just jobs and the economy. It’s all his successes.” She specifically talked about his leadership eliminating smoking sections on domestic airline flights. 

Durbin criticized Republican attempts to eliminate clean air and water standards enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. He wants no part of it. 

“The Republicans think the key to job creation is eliminating rules and regulations,” Durbin said. “We have to insist on protecting our health. We move forward with energy efficiency and a green economy.” 

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popweazel October 17, 2011 at 02:01 PM
I know for a fact if the EPA were shutdown, my water company would stop caring about most toxic components in our water. The reason I know this? I work there. Most if not all of the colleagues I have met cannot stand the tests and treatment technology it would force upon them. If the EPA were not around, do you really think they would continue research on the effects of birth control pills on fish? or even cancer causing agents in the water? Hell one of the water companies in my town is complaining about their arsenic regulations (they are out of compliance). Stop the EPA and all of our health is in jeopardy.
Richard H. Davis October 17, 2011 at 02:24 PM
The Republicans are almost certain to gain control of the Senate after the 2012 elections. They may have enough seats to beat a filibuster - they would need 58 Republicans plus Ben Nelson and Jon Tester to pass tax cuts for the wealthy and/or corporations. If they don't reach that level, they will certainly change or abolish the filibuster.
Robert Gilda October 17, 2011 at 05:16 PM
I'm tired of seeing bills die in the Senate because they have the support of "only" 51 to 59 out of 100 Senators. I'm with Senator Durbin. Make those who filibuster talk till they drop!
Fair October 17, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Yes, go back to the pre-2005 filibuster rules. If anyone is going to block the vote on a piece of legislation, they should be able to articulate exactly what their objections are. Make them go on record. If it is difficult to stand that long, or marshal arguments, tough. They are paid to do a job. Get them to do it!
Richard H. Davis October 17, 2011 at 05:51 PM
So the general belief is that we should go back to the system that was in use when the Senate could never pass an anti-lynching law because of the filibuster??? The general rule should be that the majority rules with Constitutional protections for the minority - there's problems with that, too, since the Supreme Court tends to follow the politics of the time, but at least it follows the Constitution. The filibuster doesn't follow the Constitution.
larry tobleck October 17, 2011 at 05:54 PM
It was the democratic party that pasted the filibuster rules when tey took over congree. It was OK for them at that time.
larry tobleck October 17, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Sure would be better for my post if my fingers hit the right keys, : passed, they, congress
cris October 17, 2011 at 07:06 PM
Stay classy, Hazel.! Durbin and his big spending pals can't their way, so they want to change the rules. How childish..
karen Kennedy October 17, 2011 at 07:20 PM
If someone want to invoke a filibuster, they should do so and take center stage and defend their action. That is what suppose to happen in a filibuster. To invoke it as game and hide behind it without acting is a manipulative abuse of the rule. It should have stopped a long time ago.
karen Kennedy October 17, 2011 at 07:22 PM
You are suppose to stand up and start talking, to defend your actions in why something should not come to the floor for discussion. To abuse this rule, without ever standing up and speaking to hold the floor, is un-American. This non-sense should have stopped long ago.
karen Kennedy October 17, 2011 at 07:27 PM
The Constitution also counted black as something like 2/3rds of a person for US Census purposes. Don't you miss pre-C-Span when elected officials actually showed up in the representative chambers at the same time and argued face to face. Instead of standing in front of a camera which is NOT ALLOWED to show the empty chamber. Sigh.
Robert Alexander October 17, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Fillibuster was intended to guarantee unlimited debate. Now the Republicans want to cut off debate and voting. Think about it. Is this governement by the majority?
RT October 17, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Madam Schakowsky, name one green initiative that has ever, ever created a job.
karen Kennedy October 17, 2011 at 09:32 PM
And your point about filibusters is?
karen Kennedy October 17, 2011 at 09:34 PM
The point is, it is time to change. Let Mr. Smith Go To Washington and talk in the public arena, instead of abusing a rule to halt the flow of ideas.
karen Kennedy October 17, 2011 at 09:36 PM
The tyranny of the majority is French Revolutionary stuff. Tyranny of rule abuse is allowing minority rule.
karen Kennedy October 17, 2011 at 09:39 PM
sewage plants. We used to just dump it in the River. Hey, remember pre EPA when companies could do as the saw fit, and rivers in Ohio were on fire. That was amazing. And the Chicago River? Who living in a condo next to that smell. Soon the discharge will be better, thanks to new federally mandate upgrade. But you might still want those water filters at home. People buy those too.
Bunny Edwards October 18, 2011 at 03:14 AM
I dont think it is certain. People are fed up with Republicans. Occupy Wall St is bringing down those Tea Partyers and the Repubs with it. People can see there will be nothing done for them by electing more Republicans. The nation is truly lost if Repubs are allowed to become majority in both houses IT IS GEORGE BUSH ON STEROIDS.
Willie Wilmette October 20, 2011 at 10:32 PM
popweazel, where are you? Here in Wilmette the village runs the water system & is way below the EPA standards. Secondly, Illinois has it's own EPA to regulate things like water.
Willie Wilmette October 20, 2011 at 10:49 PM
I am tired of people who want the minority to be subject to the tyranny of the majority. If you can not get 60% of the Senate to agree on something, how good of an idea can it really be. I am not asking for the Senate to have a consensus like the Occupy Wall Street people are trying to do, just 60%.
karen Kennedy October 21, 2011 at 03:55 AM
Absolutely. To invoke a filibuster, without doing a filibuster -- stand Mr. Smith and take the floor to speak -- is abusing a rule and dramatically changing voting rules: a fact that most people do not understand. It is not like folks on the hill said, "Hey America, instead of the most votes win, we are going to require a super majority." These cynical games are another reason people are protesting, and more than 70% of Americans believe this country is heading in the wrong direction.
Richard Schulte October 23, 2011 at 05:37 PM
If the Senate ended the filibuster rule, then the Senate would vote to repeal Obamacare at soon as the ruled was changed. The House has already approved a bill repealing Obamacare. Of course, the President would veto the bill, but it would put Senate Demcrats on the "hot seat". Just how many Democrat Senators would vote to repeal Obamacare? Probably every Democrat Senator who is up for re-election. That would make a veto-proof majority in the Senate. Another idea would be to just eliminate the US Senate and just let the House vote on things. That would mean that voters would get to vote every 2 years on the composition of the House of Representatives. Remember after 2012, the Republicans will be the majority in the Senate. Eliminating the filibuster so that the Republicans can do whatever they want with their Senate majority is a fine idea. It's a 2-way street.
RT October 23, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Hey Karen, do you have a life?
Richard Schulte November 03, 2011 at 12:24 PM
Yes, let's abolish the filibuster rule in the Senate-that would make it easier to repeal Obamacare. Since the majority of Americans favor the repeal of Obamacare, what are we waiting for? Let's repeal it and get America back to work.
fishman December 18, 2011 at 01:37 PM
.What is so unfortunate is how divided our country has become. What Congress should enact is the line-item veto and no amendments to any legislation. Every bill, every plan, every nomination gets an up or down vote with the President able to use his veto power. The recent payroll tax cut should not be tied in with the Canadian Pipe Line deal. They should be voted on separately so when we go to the polls, we know what our incumbent candidates voter for or against and decide if that person should be reelected. Right now we have a congress that doesn’t even read most bills because of all the garbage that is added on to it.
Willie Wilmette December 18, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Congress should limit bills to national issues and not help individual states except for rare occasions. Why should Iowa spend only $0.50 for every dollar they get from the feds & Illinois spends $1.33 for every dollar they get from the feds. Are we that much less needy?
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