Their view: Senate overdue for reform

Senate overdue for reform

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., on his push for sweeping procedural changes in the Senate:

Over one year ago, after observing the unprecedented dysfunction in the U.S. Senate, I stood on the floor of the chamber and called on my colleagues to reflect on what this institution has become and what we could do to improve it.

The 112th Congress convened this January and I again returned to the Senate floor and started a long-overdue debate on reforming the Senate.

Although the result fell short of the truly substantive changes we need, the effort produced the most aggressive reforms in more than 35 years.

This was an important discussion to have. It was about bringing greater transparency to the Senate and fixing rules that lead to back-room deals, secret holds and the obstruction that causes so much gridlock. It was about making the Senate more accountable to meet the needs of the American people and preventing the routine abuse of the rules for partisan gain.

While I’m disappointed that ultimately this body lacked the necessary will to enact all of the truly substantive reforms I introduced, we did achieve meaningful steps in the right direction: Senators can no longer use a “secret hold” to anonymously block legislation or nominees.

Senators can no longer obstruct votes by forcing the reading of amendments that have been made public online with plenty of notice.

However, there is far more work to be done because real reform is never a short-term project.

One day, I believe this moment will be seen as the start of a push for larger, more lasting changes.