Extension of Morning Businessby Former Senator Carl Levin
Posted on 2013-01-24
LEVIN. Mr. President, first, let me thank my dear friend from
Arizona for helping to lead this bipartisan effort, where eight of us
spent weeks to
try to come up with a bipartisan proposal to our leaders. Senator
Cardin was one of the eight, and I am grateful to him and to all the
eight Members, including one who has now left, Senator Kyl.
Its purpose was twofold. The first purpose was to address the specific hurdles that have created gridlock, the specific mechanisms which have been overused in this Senate that have led to gridlock. There are a number of things that have led to gridlock, but the most significant problem we have faced is the excessive use of the threat of the filibuster on the motion to proceed to a bill.
The reason it was used--according to many Members of the minority-- was because of a fear that the tree would be filled by the majority leader and then there would be no opportunity to offer amendments. So what the eight of us strived to do was to find a balance where we could protect the minority's rights to offer some amendments at the same time that we finally got rid of a roadblock which was being abused, which was a threat to filibuster a motion to proceed. So we devised this approach which is now part of the leadership proposal to do exactly that.
The other purpose is the one which my friend from Arizona has just identified; that if we could come together, the eight of us, four Democrats and four Republicans--Senator Schumer is now on the floor and he was one of the eight. If we could come together and come up with a bipartisan proposal on this issue, we could hopefully begin to change the dynamic that has so divided this Senate. That is, hopefully, a very important and, I hope, successful outcome of those discussions and of the leadership then coming together, because those two leaders have to come together if this Senate is to come together and be able to move legislation in the ordinary course.
I agree with Senator McCain's assessment as to the second goal we had, which was to show that on the thorniest procedural issue we face, that four Democrats and four Republicans, meeting in a very thorough and personal way, without a lot of staff around, could find a way through this procedural thicket and then make recommendations to the majority and to the Republican leader. I do agree with the Senator from Arizona.