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Pro: Filibusters raise awareness, allow work to get done

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 13, 2013 at 5:13 a.m.


When a senator takes to the floor and speaks about a matter for hours on end, that draws attention to the issue.

And in that sense, filibusters are effective, said Michael Cloud, chairman of the Victoria County Republican Party.

Cloud said the United States' forefathers designed the government for a populace who would be involved and educated in the political process. Because we live in a free society, however, citizens tend to become lax.

And that's when corruption tends to seep in.

"What's good sometimes is when senators still feel impassioned enough about a subject that they're able to do something like that," he said of the filibuster process. "It's a way to bring light to a subject, for sure."

Brian Darling, senior fellow for government studies with public policy research institute The Heritage Foundation, spoke out against the idea of eliminating the Senate filibuster process altogether. That elimination is an idea both Republicans and Democrats have discussed before, he said in his 2011 study, "The Filibuster Protects the Rights of All Senators and the American People."

Darling said any such action would lead to less transparency and rushed debate and would further exclude citizens from the legislative process.

"The United States Senate has a long and storied tradition of extended debate that should be preserved," he wrote. "The filibuster is a constitutional rule established by Rule 22, and it enables all senators to participate in the legislative process. The Senate would be unwise to change this rule because it may lead to further partisanship and a diminution of the rights of individual senators."

Helen Duckworth, longtime member of the League of Women Voters of Victoria, agreed that filibusters have their purpose. While the senator is making his or her speech, she said, it allows the others a chance to work behind the scenes, talking and getting things worked out.

"It helps to slow things down and get people talking to each other, exchanging ideas," she said. "And I think they're more likely to try to come to some conclusion to end the filibuster."

Con: Filibusters don't achieve intended purpose, cause unnecessary holdups

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