Bring back the old school filibuster

Senate rules should be changed to rectify a mistake made 47 years ago.

There was no limit on Senate debate until adoption of the cloture rule empowering two-thirds of senators present and voting to limit debate. This occurred on March 8, 1917 — 29 days before Congress declared war on Germany — after a filibuster prevented a vote on a momentous matter, the Armed Ship Bill, which would have authorized President Woodrow Wilson to arm American merchant ships. (He armed them anyway.)

In 1975, imposing cloture was made easier by requiring a vote of three-fifths of the entire Senate, a change the importance of which derived from what Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) did in 1970: He created the “two-track” system whereby the Senate, by unanimous consent or the consent of the minority leader, can set aside a filibustered bill and move on to other matters. Hitherto, filibustering senators had to hold the floor, testing their stamina and inconveniencing everyone else to encourage the majority to compromise. In the 52 years after 1917, there were only 58 cloture motions filed; in the 47 years since 1970, there have been 1,716.