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Megan Schmidt
KU News Service
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Researcher doubts significant changes ahead for filibuster reform

Wed, 01/23/2013

LAWRENCE — With the U.S. Senate still poised to take action on filibuster reform this week, some experts remain skeptical on whether politicians will strike a deal that includes significant changes.

The filibuster serves as a minority party delay tactic to stall voting on legislation that party doesn’t support, then requiring 60 votes to invoke cloture — in other words, end the debate.

Many Senate Republicans oppose drastic reform measures, while Democratic proponents say the right to filibuster has been abused.

“If you’re in the minority (party), you’re probably a pretty big fan of filibuster,” University of Kansas researcher Michael Lynch said.  “A lot of the Democrats are pushing for reform now, but they were screaming bloody murder when filibuster reform was brought up several years ago.”

Michael LynchLynch is an assistant professor of political science whose areas of expertise include American politics and Congress. His recent research includes papers on the role the vice president plays in Senate filibusters and institutional delay.

To prove how effective a filibuster can be at blocking legislation, just refer back to the 1950s, Lynch said.

“Southern Democrats used it to stop civil rights legislation,” he said. “The longest filibuster in history was (Sen.) Strom Thurmond, with a 24-hour filibuster. Now you don’t actually have to take the floor anymore to filibuster.”

Lynch doesn’t expect big changes to filibuster rules this session.

Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat and Senate Majority Leader, appears to be open to negotiating with Republicans, he said.

That likely means proposals from other Democrats such as the “talking filibuster” — requiring senators to be physically present and speak during a filibuster — will be dropped.

Reid met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday and later said legislators were close to reaching an agreement.

The Senate recessed, rather than adjourned, Tuesday to allow filibuster reform discussion to continue. The Senate may only adopt new procedural rules at the beginning of a session.



Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.


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