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SCHULTZ: For more, let`s turn to senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon who
introduced the filibuster reform. Senator, good to have you with us
tonight. Is this the ticket to ending obstruction?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well, it won`t end it, Ed. But it
certainly takes us a step in the right direction. We need to end the use
of the filibuster getting to a bill. And we need to end the use getting to
a conference committee. Those are outrageous applications.
But moreover, the secret, silent filibuster on a bill itself, the one that
you never see, when you just see a quorum call, that is what has been
killing important legislation, be it the president`s jobs bill, be it the
pay equity, the DREAM Act, the Disclose Act, you name it, all out of sight.
It has to end.
If people say they want more debate, they need to come to the floor of the
Senate and debate, make their case before their colleagues and the American
SCHULTZ: Is Harry Reid going to move on this? Do you have the votes to
make this happen?
MERKLEY: Harry Reid have the votes for the package that he puts together
when he asks for the votes. I hope it has all four of these elements. I
want to make sure it has the talking filibuster, because that is the heart
of this issue.
Yes, we need to do the motion to proceed. And yes, we need to do
conference and reduce the hours on judge nominations. But we really need
to have the case made that if you vote for more debate, you actually
debate. Folks can see what you`re doing and say you`re a hero or you`re a
SCHULTZ: Well, we have seen a session of Congress where there just hasn`t
been any debate, where there is a lot of senators that obviously haven`t
even been to the floor to make the case in a strong pitch to advocate for
anything because it`s been filibustered.
I mean, it`s all about getting reelected at this point, and not really
working for a living. That`s the perception that is out there. So this
talking filibuster, do you think that they could turn right around and make
this applicable, where it would actually give us the things that you said
have been filibustered in the past, that these bills would move forward and
we would make some progress?
MERKLEY: I think on a number of these issues, they`re very popular with
the American people. So if they actually see the obstruction in process,
they have a chance to weigh in with their home state senator and say what
are you doing? Why are you voting against cloture? This is outrageous.
You`re killing this bill.
Right now, folks don`t feel accountable for killing the bill because you
can`t see them, and their citizens don`t know what they`re up to.
SCHULTZ: Senators McCain and Levin introduced a bipartisan proposal on
filibuster reform. What is wrong with their plan as opposed to the one you
MERKLEY: You know, it completely misses the point of taking on the secret,
silent filibuster. And the reason why is this is the issue that the
Republicans are loving. They love the fact they can kill the bills without
taking public responsibility.
Now they talk about transparency. They talk about accountability. When it
comes down to it, they don`t like accountability or transparency. And so
the deal that they negotiated doesn`t include the talking filibuster. And
that`s just a deal that is -- I wouldn`t say it`s completely window
dressing, because it does a couple of important things. It takes other
elements out of the plan that Tom Udall and I put together.
MERKLEY: But it certainly doesn`t get to the heart of it.
SCHULTZ: But senator, this is the linchpin for the 113th, isn`t it? Or
it`s going to be business as usual?
MERKLEY: It is extremely important. Because otherwise, how can you debate
and decide issues if you`re just being paralyzed? As you noted, there has
been -- and actually the number is higher now -- more than 390 filibusters
during the last six years that Harry Reid has faced. That`s just compared
to one that Lyndon Johnson faced in six years.
And since each of those procedurally can take up a week of the Senate`s
time, you just quickly see the calendar is eviscerated. You simply can`t
get appropriation bills done. You can`t get authorizing bills done, let
alone have a long, lengthy important debate on a major issue facing
SCHULTZ: Senator Jeff Merkley, Oregon, good to have you with us tonight.
MERKLEY: Great to be here.
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