The Filibuster Lives!

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Senator Tom Harkin. Photo: Getty Images

After a Republican filibuster threatened to derail major legislation this past December, Senate Democrats pushed for filibuster reform. But on Thursday, the Senate rejected three separate measures to restrict filibusters. The measures, advocated by Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), aimed to restrict the acceptable length and breadth of filibusters. Instead, they approved legislation that would prevent lawmakers from anonymously holding up Senate business. As a compromise, Democrat Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky endorsed legislation that would decrease the number of presidential appointees subject to Senate approval. Why do senators so love the filibuster? It's a treasured tool of minority groups, who employ it as a time-trusted last resort. Republicans defend the use of the filibuster as a means of challenging the number of amendments added to bills. [AP]