Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is preparing to limit the filibuster. When he was in the minority, he supported it. On May 18, 2005, he said:
The filibuster is far from a “procedural gimmick.” It is part of the fabric of this institution. It was well known in colonial legislatures, and it is an integral part of our country’s 217 years of history.
The first filibuster in the U.S. Congress happened in 1790. It was used by lawmakers from Virginia and South Carolina who were trying to prevent Philadelphia from hosting the first Congress.
Since 1790, the filibuster has been employed hundreds and hundreds of times.
Senators have used it to stand up to popular presidents. To block legislation. And yes – even to stall executive nominees.
The roots of the filibuster can be found in the Constitution and in the Senate rules.
And it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the government established by the Framers of our Constitution: Limited Government…Separation of Powers…Checks and Balances.
Mr. President, the filibuster is a critical tool in keeping the majority in check. This central fact has been acknowledged and even praised by Senators from both parties.
Just as it has been used to bring about social change, it was also used to stall progress that this country needed to make. It is often shown that the filibuster was used against Civil Right legislation. But Civil Rights legislation passed – - Civil Rights advocates met the burden.
And it is noteworthy that today the Congressional Black Caucus is opposed to the Nuclear Option.
For 200 years, we’ve had the right to extended debate. It’s not some “procedural gimmick.”
It’s within the vision of the Founding Fathers of our country. They established a government so that no one person – and no single party – could have total control.
Some in this Chamber want to throw out 217 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power.
They want to do away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington.
They want to do away with the filibuster.
They think they are wiser than our Founding Fathers.
I doubt that’s true.