It is good to see Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is vigorously calling for an end to the filibuster. From Ryan Grim at Huffington Post:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has some advice for her Senate counterparts: Try majority rule for a change. Pelosi, in an interview with the Huffington Post, called for an end to the filibuster, which she labeled “the 60-vote stranglehold on the future.”
Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that “the Senate has to go to 51 votes, and not 60 votes.”
It’s about time Pelosi asserted some institutional pride. The Constitution makes clear that the Speaker of the House should be the second- or third-most powerful person in Washington, DC. The current manifestation of the endless filibuster threat in the Senate, though, has made the job of Speaker a joke. The filibuster itself is a perversion of the clear Constitutional intent that legislation in the Senate requires only a simple majority to pass.
The Speaker of the House is still fairly powerful, although the power of the position right now is a pathetic shadow of its former self. Republicans have effectively instituted a 60- vote threshold in the Senate. So, most observers would argue, even a junior Senator, with no leadership position, from the minority party in the Senate has more power to shape legislation than the Speaker of the House. The House has become almost meaningless with just one of these individual Senators–Scott Brown (R-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC)–having almost as much or even more power than the majority party in the House.
Any Speaker of the House, in fact any member of the House, should be in near open rebellion about how the Senate has set its rules to subvert the rights of the lower chamber. Now that Pelosi has called for restoring majority rule to the Senate, I wait to see if she will do anything more to make that happen.