Durbin Calls for Change to Filibuster Rule
Before speaking to New Trier Democratic Organization, Illinois Senator tells Patch he would like to make it harder to block legislation.
Frustrated with Senate Republicans blocking a Democratic majority of 51 senators from passing President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act,Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said he's willing to change the filibuster rule to require dissenting legislators to speak continually against a bill.
Durbin expressed his wish to return to the pre-2005 filibuster requirements before keynoting the New Trier Democratic Organization annual dinner Sunday in Northbrook, where more than 250 people gathered to hear his remarks.
“If the Republicans are willing to interrupt the business of the Senate and bring it to a halt, they should be willing to interrupt their dinner plans,” said Durbin, the Senate majority whip.
Unable to pass the Jobs Act despite a majority of 51 senators in favor, Durbin explained to Patch he and his colleagues would reassemble the legislation into a law that can muster the 60 votes needed for passage.
“The filibuster kept us from passing the entire bill,” Durbin said. “There is opposition to certain parts. We will have to create a bill that can pass so we can have some parts (of the American Jobs Act).”
Before 2005, senators wishing to filibuster to keep a majority from voting had to stand and speak on the floor. Some speeches stretched more than 24 hours long. Since 2005, senators merely vote to see if 60 members will allow a roll call for passage. No speech is necessary.
During his talk, Durbin criticized Republican efforts to stifle the President’s effort to jump-start the economy and create jobs, even though they supported most parts of the proposal when it was part of the agenda of former President George W. Bush.
“When we called the jobs bill in the Senate not one Republican voted for it,” Durbin said. “The bill contained many things they have supported before. They won’t support if when it is the proposal of President Obama.”
Durbin explained the opposition stemmed from Republican concerns about how to pay for the proposal to create jobs by improving schools and developing other infrastructure in the country.
“It would be paid for by a 5.6 percent income tax surcharge on people earning more than $1 million,” Durbin said. “Don’t take my word for it. We have an economist here,” he added pointing to Nobel Laureate Roger Meyerson of Wilmette who was attending the event.
“I’m with you,” Meyerson said as he pointed his thumb up. Meyerson, now a professor at the University of Chicago, won the 2007 Nobel Prize in economics while a faculty member at Northwestern University.
Durbin cited polling that shows 56 percent of Republicans are in favor of taxing millionaires to promote job creation. “Not one of them is a senator or House member, he said. “They have lurched from one doomsday scenario to another to shut down the economy.”
Introducing Durbin to the crowd, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) talked about Durbin’s leadership on environmental issues and their relation to job creation in today’s economy.
“It was Dick Durbin who took on those battles and won,” Schakowsky said. “It’s not just jobs and the economy. It’s all his successes.” She specifically talked about his leadership eliminating smoking sections on domestic airline flights.
Durbin criticized Republican attempts to eliminate clean air and water standards enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. He wants no part of it.
“The Republicans think the key to job creation is eliminating rules and regulations,” Durbin said. “We have to insist on protecting our health. We move forward with energy efficiency and a green economy.”
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