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Fighting for the Filibuster

The Senate still needs to be the 'saucer to cool the House’s legislative coffee.'

12:00 AM, Jan 7, 2010 • By GARY ANDRES
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The filibuster was neither contemplated by the U.S. Constitution nor written into the original rules of the Senate.  It’s a practice that has evolved over time.  But the Framers envisioned the upper body as an institution that would operate differently than the House–the “saucer to cool the House’s legislative coffee,” as Thomas Jefferson famously observed.

Bicameralism is one of the key checks on excessive government power. Allowing the Senate to operate like a mini-House might help Democrats extend the reach of the federal Leviathan more broadly and efficiently in 2010. So it’s no surprise that those who support an activist, bigger government agenda want to change the rules to achieve those ends. But it would also violate a key tenet of our system’s genius and appear a lot less attractive to liberals if the political tides shift.

Gary Andres is vice chairman of research at Dutko Worldwide in Washington, D.C., and a regular contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD Online.

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