Expert says U.S. Senate needs to reform its rules

Conference and Senate testimony to focus on the role of filibusters, cloture and the supermajority

On May 17 in Washington D.C., the Brookings Institution and the Weidenbaum Center of Washington University in St. Louis will host a conference to explore the political and institutional dynamics that have given rise to the “60-Vote Senate.” Discussion will also focus on prospects for reforming the filibuster in light of mounting criticism of the Senate and calls for reform of the chamber’s rules.

Steven S. Smith, director of the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy and the Kate M. Gregg Distinguished professor of social sciences and professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis will participate in the conference and testify before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on the need for filibuster reform on May 19.

The May 17 “State of the Senate” conference will be held in Falk Auditorium at the Brookings Insitution. Registration information is below.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will give a keynote address on the strengths and weaknesses of the modern Senate. Senator Wyden will be followed by two panels of Senate experts.

The first panel—composed of former Senate leadership staff—will offer insiders’ views on the state of the Senate.

Panel 1: Is the Senate Functional?
-Richard A. Baker, Historian Emeritus, U.S. Senate
-Robert Dove, Parliamentarian Emeritus, U.S. Senate and Professor of Political Science, George Washington University
-Martin Paone, Executive Vice President, Prime Policy Group

A second panel of congressional scholars will offer a broad assessment of the Senate and the procedural and organizational challenges confronting the legislative body; discussion will also center on proposals for reform.

Panel 2: Scholars’ Assessment of the Senate
-Sarah A. Binder, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies
-Norman J. Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
-Thomas E. Mann, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies
-Steven Smith, Director of the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, Washington University in St. Louis

For more information or to register for this event:

Contact: Brookings Office of Communications




Monday, May 17, 2010
8:30 AM – 12:00 PM

The Brookings Institution
Falk Auditorium
1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Professor Smith’s testimony to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration will be available on line May 19.