POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Grayson Filibuster Petition: Change Threshold To 55

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has launched a petition calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to weaken the filibuster.

"Join me in calling for an end to this unfair system. Tell Majority Leader Reid to modify the rules of the Senate to require only 55 votes to invoke cloture instead of 60," Grayson writes.

Since the Democrats regained control of the Senate, Republicans have abused the filibuster rule like never before. Until 1970, no session of Congress had more than ten votes on cloture to end a filibuster. Until 2007, the record was 58. But since Democrats regained control of the Senate, filibusters have skyrocketed. The last session had a new record of 112.

The filibuster does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. If the Founding Fathers had wanted it, they would have included it. Instead, this undemocratic rule allows small-state Senators representing as little as 11 percent of the country to thwart the will of the other 89 percent. In 1975, the Senate reduced the number of votes needed to end a filibuster from 67 to 60. Now, with the Party of No blocking majority rule on virtually everything the country needs, we need to do it again.

Of course, it's not that easy. It takes 67 votes to change a Senate rule, and it's unlikely Democrats will be able to get that many when they're struggling to corral 60 for health care reform. The rule was changed in 1975, when the number of senators needed to invoke cloture was dropped from 67 to 60. Chris Bowers suggests using the power of the vice president as presiding officer to force legislation through with 51 votes -- otherwise known as the "nuclear option."

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