04/20/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

End the Filibuster

Who did America's insurance companies pick to headline their annual industry breakfast week after next? The North Carolina politician who's received nearly $1.7 million from health and insurance interests to carry their water in the U.S. Senate: Richard Burr.

It's bad enough that our senator would rather protect big insurance companies' (the "Big 'I'") windfall profits than fight for North Carolina's families, so many of whom struggle with skyrocketing health care costs and lack of coverage.

But the real travesty is that an outdated Senate procedural rule, the filibuster, empowers a few dozen obstructionists like Richard Burr to effectively guarantee the special interest groups get their way.

It's time to end the wheeling and dealing that smothers good ideas and stifles real progress in Washington.

It's time to end the filibuster in its current form.

A statement released yesterday by the insurance industry lobby proclaimed "The Big 'I' is pleased that Sen. Burr will be kicking off our annual agent pilgrimage to Capitol Hill... [and] looking forward to hearing his insights on health care reform..."

Burr's so-called "insights" on health care reform will go something like this: delay, obstruct, and preserve the status quo. His tool of choice? The filibuster.

The filibuster has evolved to require a 60-vote supermajority to pass virtually any important legislation in the Senate. Richard Burr, along with other obstructionists in the Senate, has even begun using the filibuster to block votes on legislation they previously supported, just to deprive the president of legislative victories.

Enough is enough. We cannot let a small minority in the Senate continue holding up health care reform -- and countless other initiatives supported by the American people and a majority of Senators.

Sign my petition to end the filibuster's stranglehold on the U.S. Senate.

We'll never get the strong health care changes we need if a handful of insurance industry-backed obstructionists like Richard Burr can prevent a bill from even being voted upon, much less sent to the president's desk and signed into law.