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Daschle, Snowe on Proposed Senate Debate Rule Changes

Washington, D.C.– The following is a statement from former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former Sen. Olympia Snowe, senior fellows at the Bipartisan Policy Center, on Senate leadership’s intent to reduce post-cloture debate time on most presidential nominees by a simple majority vote, should the Senate fail to advance a resolution to that effect by the traditional two-thirds supermajority:

“Extended debate and protection of the minority’s rights are fundamental features of the United States Senate that make it the world’s greatest deliberative body. Unfortunately, in recent years, each side has unilaterally employed extreme procedural tactics to lower the threshold for preventing filibusters, causing long-term damage to the institution by removing a key incentive for consensus-building. It is regrettable that a majority is once again prepared to rely on procedures contradictory to the Senate’s rules and norms, this time to further curtail debate around presidential nominations. Senators should now hit ‘pause’ before opening another door that could potentially lead to eliminating the filibuster altogether by a simple majority vote.

“At the same time, both parties have also abused the prerogative of the filibuster and the Senate’s rules to delay and obstruct presidential nominees. The fallout has resulted in too many important government positions left unfilled and increasing rancor between Republicans and Democrats. Senators should now take a thorough, systemic look at Senate structures and procedures and pursue bipartisan reform. Changes to the Senate’s rules and precedents must not be made exclusively with the majority party’s support. Rather, any alterations should be guided by two principles: first, changes should be made only at the start of a Congress, and second, debate over changes will be concluded and voted upon only when at least two-thirds of the Senate agrees.”