Partisan gridlock in the U.S. Senate, exemplified by the present day, “no-effort” filibuster, has made it difficult for the Senate to pass meaningful legislation and respond to the needs of the country. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) favors the “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” solution - talk. Senators who want to filibuster should need to stand up on the floor of the Senate to hold up action on bills they object to. Restoring the “talking filibuster,” Senator Merkley argues, would bring the Senate back to the deliberative body it was designed to be, restore the incentives for both parties to seek compromise, and, in the process, help renew and strengthen our democracy. Join us for a conversation with Senator Jeff Merkley and Professor Larry Jacobs as they explore the history and debates of the filibuster.
Senator Jeff Merkley is the junior senator from Oregon, first elected in 2008. He has been a progressive leader in the Senate on immigration - publicly challenging President Trump’s policies on the southern border - and finance reform, sponsoring the Volcker Rule. He serves on the Senate Committees on Appropriations; Environment and Public Works; Budget; and Foreign Relations. Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Merkley was a five-term member of the Oregon House of Representatives, serving as Speaker from 2007- 2009.
Professor Larry Jacobs is the director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance and the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies. His commentary and research has been published and discussed in a number of mass media outlets.