Month 8, Day 16: Filibusted

Figured I’d write to Kerry and whine about the filibuster.

Dear Senator Kerry,

On the assumption that the upcoming November elections will preserve the Democratic majority in the Senate, I am writing to ask you to speak as powerfully as possible on behalf of filibuster reform. The shelving of critical climate legislation has been a bitter pill to swallow for any of us who are concerned about the looming climate crisis. At the moment when it seemed we might possibly be able to make headway against Republican obstructionism, the problems involved in assembling the sixty votes required for cloture effectively doomed any hope for a meaningful bill. This is not how the Senate is supposed to work.

The behavior of Senate Republicans and a few conservative Democrats has left the United States in a deplorable position: as billions of people around the world face an uncertain future due to the ravages of climate change, a tiny group of rich and powerful men and women hold the power to stall any action. This is not how the Senate is supposed to work.

Even for bills that are broadly popular, a single senator from a state with a population less than that of Massachusetts’ capitol can effectively stymie forward motion — until special provisions, concessions or earmarks are inserted. A single senator can place an anonymous hold on legislation without giving any reason whatever, again halting forward motion. This is not how the Senate is supposed to work.

It should be no surprise that Congress’ approval ratings are low, for voters see that there is no political will to get things done; there is only a will to procrastinate….and procrastination is not a characteristic we expect in our leaders or our representatives. This is not how the Senate is supposed to work.

I am a lifelong Democrat and a fervent environmentalist. I believe deeply in the potential of our system of government. But right now, America’s Senate is completely dysfunctional. The Senate is supposed to work — and it doesn’t.

Please advocate forcefully for filibuster reform. The Senate needs to get to work. We cannot survive another legislative session of delaying tactics.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

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