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Voters Should Demand Change in Senate Filibuster Rules, Group Says

October 27, 1994| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Voters should demand that Senate candidates vow to end government gridlock by changing the filibuster rules that cause it, a bipartisan group of retired senators and senior politicians said Wednesday.

"A lot of people think that when they see gridlock in Washington, it's because our leaders can't get a majority in Congress to agree," said former Atty. Gen. Elliot L. Richardson, a Republican.

But in the last session of Congress, majorities favored reforming campaign-finance laws, requiring lobbyists to disclose who pays for their services, updating laws related to toxic-waste cleanup and protecting drinking water, he said.

"Each of these bills died, not because they lacked majority support, but because a minority of senators filibustered--simply refusing to let the Senate vote," Richardson said at a news conference called by Action, Not Gridlock, a privately funded group dedicated to changing the Senate's way of doing business.

Later, departing Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Me.) said in an interview that he agreed the rules should be changed.

In the last week before adjournment, "we had five separate filibusters going at the same time," he said. As recently as the 1960s, the Senate averaged only two filibusters a year.

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