Klobuchar: Senate rules need adjustingby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told MPR's Morning Edition on Wednesday that she hopes the U.S. Senate will be able to make some rule changes that will allow more progress.
"We're looking at a combination of things that will make it easier to govern the country while still preserving some of these time-worn traditions of the Senate," Klobuchar said.
Below are a few areas Klobuchar said she thinks need changes.
Filibusters: In the Senate, 60 out of 100 votes are needed to cut off debate, which means single pieces of legislation usually can't pass without 60 votes. Klobuchar said there are ways to make it more difficult to cut off debate, such as by requiring a certain number of senators to be in the room to continue a filibuster. Another option is to establish another way of moving legislation forward, called "motion to proceed."
Holds: Any individual senator is allowed to put a three-day hold on a presidential nomination like a judge. It can be done anonymously, and confirmation of a nominee can be held up when senators take turns putting a hold on someone's nomination. Klobuchar said the Senate should stop letting the holds be secretive. "If you get some sunlight on that and people see the shenanigans going on, that will create pressure to stop those holds," she said.
Bipartisan work: Republican and Democratic senators traditionally sit with members of their own party at committee meetings and in the Senate chamber. Klobuchar said she's part of a group of senators questioning that tradition. "Literally people go to their corners of the boxing ring instead of finding ways to interact and work together," she said.
Earmarks: There's been a lot of talk in Washington about banning earmarks, the funding for projects members of Congress push that will benefit their own districts. Klobuchar agreed that the system needs changes, but she's concerned about what would happen to road and bridge projects in Minnesota under an earmark ban. "I don't want to put Minnesota at a competitive disadvantage. That would be a huge mistake," she said.
(MPR's Cathy Wurzer contributed to this report.)
- Morning Edition, 11/17/2010, 7:20 a.m.