Skip to main content


Fixing the Filibuster: A Conversation with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)


Could restoring the talking filibuster fix the gridlock in the US Senate? The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate hosted a conversation with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and his longtime Chief of Staff, Mike Zamore, on their recent book, “Filibustered! How to Fix the Broken Senate and Save America” moderated by Vox Policy Correspondent, Abdallah Fayyad, Pulitzer Prize finalist and former Boston Globe editorial board member.

Sen. Merkley and Zamore argue that for nearly two centuries, the Senate, as designed by the Founders, was a deliberative legislative body where the nation’s thorniest challenges were openly debated. Senators who objected to a bill could wage a defiant filibuster—in the spirit of fictional Senator Smith in the classic 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But today, the Senate is mired in gridlock, driven by an explosion of filibustering. This program highlighted key moments in filibuster history and firsthand accounts of recent high-profile legislative battles stymied by the current process.

As the Senate heads towards a new chapter next session following recent leadership and retirement announcements, Sen. Merkley and Zamore explored how the key to the Senate’s future may be found in its past.

Watch the Recording

Event Photos