The Commonwealth Blog

Sen. Barbara Boxer Defends Filibusters, Suggests Reforms

Aug 31, 2010 @ 2:47 PM
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called for reforming but not eliminating the practice of filibustering in the Senate.

Asked about the controversial practice, in which a senator or group of senators can refuse to yield to the other party and allow a bill to proceed, Boxer said the filibuster has its place, but it's being abused. "It's being used on motions to adjourn," she said.

She suggested that the practice be reformed by, for example, reducing the number of votes needed to end a filibuster from 60 to 55 votes, which would still be high enough to "protect the minority" party. Boxer also said the filibuster should go back to its roots, when senators used to have to stand at the podium and read from phone books for hours on end in their efforts to stop a bill in its tracks. "I think you should have to stand on your feet all night if you want to filibuster," she said.

Boxer was speaking at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. The moderator for the event was Bob Saldich, (above, at podium), a former president of the Club's board of governors. Just slightly more than two months before the November election – in which she is vying for her seat against Republican businesswoman Carly Fiorina – the senator's appearance drew a sold-out audience and many journalists (see photo right).