Trent Franks Calls for Filibuster Reform

Trent Franks

On Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot channel 125, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said his proposal to reform the Senate’s use of the filibuster on the motion to proceed will shine more sunlight on the inner workings of Congress and expose obstructionist Democrats to American voters.

Franks told guest-host and Breitbart News Washington Editor Matt Boyle that his resolution doesn’t do away with the filibuster completely but instead tries to return it to “its original intent.”

Pointing out that the cloture vote, which is now used to prevent votes, was ironically introduced to allow a vote, Franks said the “rule hasn’t changed, but the conduct of the Senators has changed over time” and “it has been a seminal impact on the republic.”

Franks said that House Republicans have “passed almost every piece of legislation that the Republican base wants,” including repealing Obamacare, and pointed out that there are at least 400 bills that have never had a chance to to even be debated on the floor of the United States Senate largely because the filibuster is used on the motion to proceed.

When Democrats—like they did with the recent bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security except President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty—filibuster bills and do not even let them be debated, Franks said the House GOP leadership is given the unenviable choice of allowing the Democrats to shut down the government and blame Republicans for it to destroy Republicans in the next election or “dummying the bill down so Democrats would vote for it,” which would make the Republican base mad at GOP Representatives.

Because 60 votes are needed to pass a motion to proceed in order to even discuss or deliberate a bill, Franks pointed out that the majority of the U.S. Senate does not even have the power to cause something to even be deliberated much less a vote. His proposal would require just 51 votes to allow for debate. And in order to protect the minority party, his proposal would also allow a new rule that would enable the minority to have extended debate and offer at least one amendment. As a result, under Franks’s proposal, the majority will be allowed to put a bill on the Senate floor.

“Doesn’t mean they can pass it, but they can put it on the floor,” he said.

As Franks explained, after 100 hours of Senate debate, if the minority party wants to filibuster, “they can drag this thing out so long as they can hold the floor,” which would “require the filibustering group to filibuster in the open” instead of doing so anonymously by placing holds, not showing up and remaining silent. Further, Franks said because the minority party would be allowed to offer at least one amendment, “we would get full debate and the minority could offer good ideas.”

“They just couldn’t permanently and indefinitely stop the Senate dead in its tracks… and subvert the Constitution and stalemate the republic,” Franks said.

He said the “world is kept in the dark about what is happening” now, especially because Senators can filibuster bills anonymously.

“When you have a hidden, subterranean policy, nobody knows who’s doing what,” he said. “Consequently, they don’t know where the accountability lies. If we don’t have accountability in this republic, then we don’t have any sort of people-oriented driven system.”

He said the more Americans know about what is happening in Congress, are informed, and understand pieces of legislation, “we come up with better legislation. When they don’t, the Democrats win and come up with bad legislation.”

Reforming the filibuster rules may also force President Barack Obama to veto more bills that the GOP-controlled Congress passes, and voters, according to Franks, would see that Republicans are not weak and are “putting things on the President’s desk and he is vetoing it; therefore, the American people ought to pay attention a little more who they elect for President.” He added that Americans do not even know that “Senate Democrats are the ones stopping our bills” because they can filibuster bills anonymously.

He said his solution “doesn’t do away with the rule” and “creates accountability” and the ultimate point of his proposals to reform the filibuster is to “have accountability… where we can clearly see who was doing what and then make a decision at election time.”

“Now, the people don’t have a voice because they don’t know what’s happening,” he said.

Franks said that ultimately if the debate over the filibuster makes more Americans aware of what is happening in the Senate then that in itself will be a success.

“We can either alter this rule to some extent like we believe should be or raise this debate and raise the abuse of the filibuster to such a high degree politically that it becomes untenable to continue to abuse it,” he said. “And there’s at least some hope that we can get some accountability and save this greatest republic in the history of the world.”