Coburn: Senate rule changes allow majority to bypass filibuster
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Friday, January 25, 2013
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn said changes in Senate Rules that passed Thursday will hinder his efforts to obstruct misguided policy and profligate spending in Washington.
“They handicapped a lot of the tools I’ve learned to stop bills from coming to the floor,” Coburn told an overflow Republican Club of Tulsa crowd on Friday. “So it’ll be much more difficult, for the next two years anyway, for me to stop a bunch of junk from coming to the floor that is not, number one, a priority for a nation that has $93 trillion in unfunded liabilities and debt and, number two, won’t do the hard work of oversighting what we’re doing before we do something else.”
The rule changes allow a Senate majority to bypass the filibuster on initial consideration of legislation if either a bipartisan group of senators consents or the minority is guaranteed the chance to offer amendments.
The rule changes also limit debate on some appointments and reduce the time delay on votes after filibusters are cut off.
Coburn said the changes misunderstand the history and purpose of the Senate.
“The purpose of the filibuster in the Senate ... was to make sure a majority could never dominate a minority,” he said.
While the Founding Fathers designed the U.S. House to be responsive to the public, the Senate’s role was to be above shifting sentiments, he said.
“It was designed to protect minority rights so that, even in times of massive swings in one direction, a minority opinion would be considered,” he said.
Read more of this story in Saturday's Tulsa World.
Sen. Tom Coburn speaks to the Tulsa Republican Club during a lucheon at the Summit Club Friday in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World