Abolishing Rule 23 (Filibuster) in the US Senate essay
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There is no doubt that the United States Senate is playing a critical role in the United States through its legislative functions. The Article one of the US Constitution outlines the composition and powers of the Senate. The Senate is one of the two legislative branches of the United States, and as such, it plays a significant role in polishing the legislation process through debates and hearings and most importantly by carrying out enquiries. A wide range of bills is always tabled in the Senate to be debated by the senators time after time. It is clear that not all of the bills tabled are automatically approved, thus becoming laws; some bills are often disapproved. The Constitution stipulates how the Senators conduct their businesses, and as such, there are protocols that dictate how a bill gets to the house before the first debate. However, no debate seeking to approve or disapprove a measure is allocated specific time duration. Therefore, certain legislators, mostly those against a bill, tend to employ delaying tactics that prolong debating time even for days, weeks or months in order to prevent a bill from coming to the final voting stage. The delaying tactics used by senators to prolong debates are commonly known as filibuster, and they always take a form of endless speeches, proposing several amendments and, in some instances, dilatory motions. The filibuster is common in the US Senate, and it is mostly employed by legislators opposing a bill. Because of the time wastage and abuses associated with the filibuster it is important that it is abolished.
Every individual in the Senate has the right of choice when it comes to deciding which legislation is to be passed or disapproved. However, a number of senators, especially those in the minority, have always used the filibuster rule excessively to deliberately delay action on crucial bills. This deliberate attempt by the senators to delay motions is uncalled for, considering that it drags the legislation process. It is evident that filibustering may take long periods, and, in some instances, it can even last a year. In such a case, the senators may only focus on a single motion, wasting the precious time that would have been used to debate other important issues. Koger (2010) asserts that it takes at least three-fifth of the duly sworn Senators to invoke cloture and a simple majority to vote on the same issue in order to stop filibuster. This process is very long and time wasting, just like filibustering itself, and as such, the whole process should be done away with to ensure that the legislation process is not dragged down by a few minorities. There are certain bills that come into the house with specified time frame or a bit urgent. If senators begin to filibuster about such crucial bills, then they may end up expiring before the final voting process, thus causing a severe blow to the common public and the government, especially if the bill affects the public directly.
The filibuster needs to be eliminated, taking into consideration that it has no logical reason for existence. The filibuster is no doubt a mockery of the principle of democracy. This claim can be justified by the fact that democracy calls for the recognition of the voice and interest of the majority. It is unfortunate that the filibuster allows a minority to misuse their position in the Senate to prevent a motion supported by the majority to be voted on (Harris, 1997). The minority can decide to delay voting on cloture if they want; thus, a few minority senators can scuffle the final voting of the bill. The fact that the lower house (United States House of Representatives) conducts their business effectively without the filibuster rule is a strong reason enough to abolish the filibuster. At one point in the history of the United States, the Senate was debating all the bills without the filibuster rule, and above all, several legislative houses across the world are making laws without the filibuster. This means that the filibuster is not important to the Senate, and thus, it should be abolished.
The Filibuster rule should be abolished purposely because it undermines the spirit of the Constitution. It is common knowledge that the Constitution requires a simple majority in the Senate to pass most of the bills with an exception of a few motions that require super majority. The filibuster goes against this important rule of the Constitution by giving the minority the power to veto the voice of the majority, and as such, it is not good. The filibuster is also renowned for crippling the activities of the government (Bell, 2011). Minority opposition group can plot to drag the projects of the government, which requires legislative enactment or amendment. Being one of the most evolved democracies in the globe, the USA has always had a strong opposition, which in most cases tends to criticize action of the government. Because of political mileage, an opposition can plot to tamper with the operation of the existing government by engaging the filibuster for all the bills presented by the government. Such moves will definitely result in paralysis of the government operations in case the government cannot garner the quorum to invoke cloture during a filibuster.
The fact that the filibuster has no clear structure is important enough to abolish filibuster rules. For instance, legislators can always use an uncouth way, such as an endless speech that does not relate to the bill in question, in order to delay the final voting stage. Because the filibuster does not specify what an individual legislator should talk about, most legislators are renowned for bringing issues into the floor of the house that does not relate to the bill tabled for discussion (Wawro & Schickler, 2006). It is awkward to support a rule that does not have clearly defined structure and helps the minority to delay the legislative process. In other words, there is no need of having the filibuster if the senators will be issuing endless speeches that are out of topic rather than discussing matters relating to the bill.
The filibuster rule is not entirely bad considering that there are certain instances when it plays a significant role in legislation process as well as government administration. To begin with, the filibuster allows for proper scrutiny of the bills to ensure that bills are not passed into law with a lot of errors and inconsistencies (Arenberg & Dove, 2012). Hurriedly passed legislations are always prone to inconsistencies and complexities. They tend to end up in the judiciary for further interpretation, a process that takes considerable amount of time. In other words, the more time the bill takes in the legislation process, the better because it is, as this gives the legislators an opportunity to thoroughly scrutinize and analyze it before it is presented for final voting.
Arenberg and Dove (2012) believe that the filibuster rule should also be promoted based on the fact that not all majority decisions are right. In democratic society, the minority also has a right to be heard, and, therefore, the filibuster offers a wonderful opportunity for minorities to express their concerns. The minority, just like the majority, has right to be represented and participate in any democratic event in the society. This implies that the minority in the Senate is duly elected to represent the interest of their electorates, and for that reason, they also have a right to be heard just like their majority partners, thus the need for the filibuster. Additionally, abolishing filibuster rules translates to denying the minorities the right to a free and open debate, an aspect that mitigates bitterness and fighting.
The filibuster plays a great role in allowing senators who are opposing the bill to convince those that are supporting to join their camp. According to Mixon, Troy and Upadhyaya (2003), the minority can take advantage of the filibuster to persuade the majority to change their stand over the bill in question. The filibuster is a powerful tool for blocking the simple majority from enacting bills that are unpopular and does not reflect the true will of the electorates. Certain bills may be unpopular with the common public, but they may end up being enacted if the minority is not allowed to veto the majority decision.
All in all, the filibuster should have limitation, especially when it comes to speeches, if it has to be in existence. If the Senate is not interested in abolishing the filibuster, then they should consider amending it to reduce the number of duly elected senators required to invoke cloture and subsequent voting to end the filibuster (Binder, Lawrence, & Smith, 2008). However, a worthy remedy comes in abolishing the filibuster in totality to avoid unnecessary delays in processing of bills into laws.
In conclusion, the senate plays a significant role in the legislative order of the United States. The United States public and administrations need the Senate as much as they need any other legislative institution. Despite the fact that powers and limits of the Senate has been stipulated in the United States Constitution, most people are highly concerned about how the Senators carry out debates, especially about the tactics employed to delay final voting of the bills. This public concern has led to sharp debate with different camps holding different position based on their support or opposition of the filibuster.