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April 11, 2018

Giovanetti: Thank the Senate Filibuster for Paul Ryan's Retirement

  Institute for Policy Innovation

DALLAS - House Speaker Paul Ryan is a victim of the Senate filibuster, not of the Trump presidency or the upcoming midterm elections, says Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) president Tom Giovanetti.

"Ryan’s retirement announcement this morning is a demonstration of how Congressional gridlock, driven by the Senate filibuster, has killed important legislation championed by Ryan during his tenure in Congress and especially during his speakership," said Giovanetti. "And without reform of the filibuster, the faith of Americans in Congress as a functional institution will continue to erode, which will have consequences far beyond the success or failure of any political career or speakership."

Speaker Ryan has served in Congress because he cares about ideas and policy, said Giovanetti. "But it’s impossible for those like Paul Ryan, who want to accomplish important things for the American people, to succeed so long as the Senate has been accidentally transformed into a supermajority body."

The Senate filibuster is not outlined in the Constitution, nor was it part of the original rules of the Senate. The Founders considered making the Senate a supermajority body but rejected that approach. Since the 1970s, senators have been allowed to “virtually filibuster,” eliminating the requirement for senators to stand up on the floor and talk for hours on end, but today the power of the soft filibuster has transformed the Senate into a supermajority body, with the work of the body paralyzed merely by a call to the Majority Leader’s office halting the process until 60 votes can be found for cloture.

“The current filibuster is an aberration, and it’s ridiculous,” said Giovanetti.

To combat a wave of voter discontent in November in response to Congress’s do-nothing agenda, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should restore the filibuster to its historic roots: As a device to slow the pace of legislation rather than a passive way to kill legislation. If senators strongly oppose a particular nomination or bill, they should be required to put forth the effort just like in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is an independent, nonprofit public policy organization based in Dallas. IPI president Tom Giovanetti is available by contacting Erin Humiston at (972) 874-5139, or 



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