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As organizations representing a range oI interests and ideologies. we are united in our assessment that the cur-
rent Iunctioning oI the United States Senate is problematic to our democracy.
In place oI a deliberative process that prioritizes open debate. accountability. and cooperation. the current Sen-
ate has descended into gridlock and partisan warIare at great expense to our nation and its ability to rise to the
challenges oI our time.
The rules governing the Senate. in addition to the way these rules are manipulated. are in need oI examination.
The unprecedented use oI the flibuster and holds. oIten done in secret and out oI the view oI the American
people. does a disservice to our democracy. Though the Senate averaged approximately one flibuster per year
until 1970. Senators in the past two sessions have used this tactic roughly 70 times per year. There were 139
motions Ior cloture in the last Congressthat was a new record high. and a 100° increase in the number oI
cloture motions Irom the Congress beIore that.
Recently. voices Irom across the political spectrum have been highlighting the gridlock plaguing the U.S. Senate
and noting that the problematic rules governing the body are at the heart oI the problem. Senator-elect Dan
Coats oI Indiana. a Republican who served in the Senate in the 1990s. recently stated. 'The American people
deserve that we are transparent with them. that we take one item at a time. that we register our yeas and our
nays and be accountable to the American people Ior what we`ve done.¨
This description oI the democratic process. which should be a bedrock oI the way the Senate governs itselI.
has been woeIully absent in recent sessions. with proIound consequences Ior our nation. As President Obama
recently said. 'II we do not fx how the flibuster is used in the Senate. then it is going to be very diIfcult Ior us
over the long term to compete in a very Iast moving global environment.¨
As a new class oI Senators plans to take their seats. we hope they will ioin a growing array oI bi-partisan voices
in recognizing the need Ior the Senate to live up to its best traditions. We. the undersigned organizations. call
Ior the U.S. Senate to prioritize open debate. increase transparency and accountability. and end the needless
obstruction that threatens the vibrancy oI our democracy.
Alliance Ior Justice
Brennan Center Ior Justice
Campaign Ior Americas Future
Citizens Ior Tax Justice
Communications Workers oI America
Human Rights Campaign
International Federation oI ProIessional and Technical Engineers
League oI Conservation Voters
League oI United Latin American Citizens
National Council oI Women`s Organizations
National Organization Ior Women
Service Employees International Union
The Leadership ConIerence on Civil and Human Rights
The RockeIeller Brothers Fund
United Automobile. Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers oI America International Union
United Food and Commercial Workers
Voices Ior Progress
Women`s Law Proiect
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