SENATE REFORM

Evan Bayh: End the Filibuster

Can Congress work effectively while every major decision requires 60 votes? Sen. Evan Bayh, a veteran Democratic lawmaker who announced his retirement last week, writes in The New York Times that the obstructionist parliamentary tactic known as the filibuster is making it almost impossible to govern. "Last fall, the Senate had to overcome two successive filibusters to pass a bill to provide millions of Americans with extended unemployment insurance," writes Bayh. "There was no opposition to the bill; it passed on a 98-0 vote. But some senators saw political advantage in drawing out debate, thus preventing the Senate from addressing other pressing matters." He suggests lowering the number of votes needed to break a filibuster to 55 from 60 and changing the rules to force filibustering senators to publicly commit to continually debating an issue (a la Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) to discourage frivolous obstruction.