I've been in the Senate for two years, and while I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish, I've developed a keen frustration with one thing in particular: the filibuster.
Don't get me wrong: I have a deep respect for the Senate, and I also realize that the winds of political fortune change. But the simple fact is that, in recent years, the filibuster has been used to bring the people's business to a halt in order to score political points -- and I can't stand by and let that happen.
That's why I've introduced a package of proposals, designed to streamline the business of the Senate, that will change how the filibuster works. I want to make sure that any senators who want to hold up the business of the Senate show up and own their obstruction -- instead of making empty threats while keeping our country from moving forward.
We must protect the rights of the minority, but our current system goes too far. I have seen bills that would create jobs and bills that fund supplies for our troops held up for days and weeks while I've worked day and night to help collect the 60 votes needed for cloture.
Meanwhile, the current rules allow the filibustering minority to not even bother to show up. They could be out for a haircut, dinner, or even out of town.
There's a word for that: wrong.
My proposal changes that and forces the minority to show up and own their filibuster by changing the vote requirement for cloture to three-fifths of senators present and voting. If 100 senators are present, 60 votes are required. If 90 senators are present, 54 votes are required, and so on.
It is a commonsense way to protect the minority's rights while allowing us to get on with our job to make America work for the constituents who sent us to Washington. It's a job I take seriously, and it's a job I can do better with this rule change in place.
With the news yesterday that our vote to adopt the rules for the next Congress will most likely happen on January 24, we know we have 20 days to make sure we get organized and take advantage of our best chance to fix the filibuster. Help me use that time to show my colleagues where Americans stand on this critical issue by signing my petition and then inviting at least five of your friends to join our push for reform.
We are moving into what is sure to be a more difficult Congress. We will need you now more than ever, but if we can get this change done, it will be one huge step toward getting work done for the American people.
Follow Sen. Mark Udall on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarkUdall