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  • Thanking Our Colleagues

    by Senator Jeff Merkley

    Posted on 2013-01-24

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    MERKLEY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Shaheen). Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. MERKLEY. Madam President, I rise to share a few comments on the votes that we are about to take. In particular, I am struck by the enormous amount of conversation over the last few days over how we make this body, our beloved Senate, work more effectively in addressing the big issues facing America.

    I think all of us have had the experience of our constituents back home recognizing that the last 2 years, and many years before, were ones that we had a particular growing element of paralysis that we had a responsibility to address. Tonight the Senate is going to be speaking in a bipartisan fashion and saying this cannot continue in the same way; that we need to take steps toward having a more functional Senate.

    I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone in this Chamber that I had hoped we would go a little further in addressing the silent filibuster that has been haunting us in these Halls. But here is the important thing. The important thing is that this Chamber is speaking tonight in a bipartisan voice, in a strong voice, saying we must take steps for this deliberation to work better. I think that message reverberates with the American people who are looking at the many challenges we face as a nation and who have been watching through the courtesy of C-SPAN and seeing that often, when they want us to be addressing these challenges, we are here in quorum calls.

    A substantial amount of that can change, both with the modest steps we are taking tonight and, hopefully, in the collaboration between the two parties in the spirit of having a functioning legislature.

    I want to thank a number of groups who have worked very hard to bring to us the importance of making change: the Communications Workers of America, the Sierra Club, the Alliance for Justice, the entire Fix the Senate Coalition, Daily Coast, Credo, the Progressive Campaign Committee, and the nearly half million Americans who have signed petitions to say: Please, Dear Senators, work hard on this. It matters. I think their voices were heard.

    So I extend my appreciation to the leadership on both sides who have been working so hard to figure out these steps forward, to try to have a series of tools on the motion to proceed, to figure out how we can get more effectively to conference committee with the House, how we can cut down on the number of hours that are often wasted after a cloture vote on a nomination. So there is significant progress in a number of areas.

    I certainly pledge to my majority leader and to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to remain engaged in this conversation about the functioning of the Senate. I appreciate the work they have done. I appreciate the steps we are taking tonight. I also appreciate the spirit in which many folks are saying: Let's make these things work. We hope they work. And if they don't get us there, let's return to this conversation because we do have that [[Page S267]] underlying responsibility to the citizens of the Nation to have a Senate that can act. In the words of the President just outside a few days ago, it is time to act. He called upon the Nation and he calls upon us, and we make significant steps in that direction tonight.

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