Senate “preserves minority rights,” passes rules abolishing secret holds and providing 72 hours to review amendments
Posted on January 28, 2011
“What we need most in the Senate is a change in behavior in addition to this change in rules; we need to preserve the Senate as a forum for minority rights.” – Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today applauded an agreement by the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate to significant reforms of the Senate rules, which he said represent “a major step forward” in helping make the Senate “a place that is better able to deal with the serious business that comes before us” and preserve “the Senate as a unique forum, unique in the world, that protects minority rights.”
Alexander, as the third-ranking Senate Republican and Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, served as the lead Senate Republican in negotiations with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Conference.
Alexander and Schumer, together with Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader McConnell (R-Ky.), agreed:
1- That they will introduce legislation to reduce the number of presidential nominations that require Senate approval and create a working group to recommend how to streamline what Alexander calls the “maze of conflicting forms” that nominees submit to the Administration and Senate;
2- To support two Senate rules changes that passed the Senate today ending the practice of “secret holds” and waiving the reading of amendments that have been filed for at least 72 hours, making it possible for senators and the American people to review legislation before it is voted upon;
3- To return the normal operation of the Senate to, according to Alexander, “a Senate where most bills are considered by committee, where most bills come to the floor as a result of bipartisan cooperation, where most bill are then debated and amended and then voted upon.”
Alexander said, “These are important steps in the right direction, which we will have a chance to talk about more …. What we need most in the Senate is a change in behavior in addition to this change in rules. We need to preserve the Senate as a forum for minority rights.”
Regarding resolutions related to the filibuster – offered by Senators Merkley (D-Ore.), Udall (D-N.M.) and Harkin (D-Iowa) – which failed to pass the Senate tonight, Alexander said, “We need to preserve the 60-vote requirement for major votes. That will force consensus. That will cause us to work together. That will build support out in the country for the result of what we do ….”
For the full transcript of Alexander’s speech on the Senate floor, click HERE.
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