Posted by Curt on 17 March, 2021 at 8:33 am. 1 comment.


By Jordan Davidson

A rising number of Democratic legislators are evaluating potentially abolishing or changing the filibuster so they can force their agenda through the Senate without formal protest from Republicans. Proposals for removing the procedure recently ramped up as legislators on the left side of the political aisle continue to peddle their 800-plus-page election overhaul bill as necessary to preserve voting and civil rights, especially for minorities.

“I’m not going to say that you must get rid of the filibuster [entirely]. I would say you would do well to develop a Manchin-Sinema rule on getting around the filibuster as it relates to race and civil rights,” said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

“We’re headed for a showdown between the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the filibuster — a relic of Jim Crow,” Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas warned in a statement to Politico Playbook.

President Joe Biden also hinted that he would support a certain kind of filibuster “reform” if it meant keeping Congress moving. “I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster, you have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days. You had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday evening.

“So you’re for that reform? You’re for bringing back the talking filibuster?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“I am. That’s what it was supposed to be,” Biden said. “It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned the Democrats’ sudden commitment to “steamrolling any obstacle to short-term power” noting it would be detrimental to the integrity of the Senate and the preservation of the minority party’s opinion.

“[U]nder pressure from the outside, many of our Democratic colleagues are abandoning their stated principles as fast as possible. … The framers designed the Senate to require deliberation … to force cooperation … and to ensure that federal laws in our big, diverse country earn broad enough buy-in to receive the lasting consent of the governed,” McConnell stated. “Senate Democrats parroted all these arguments when they were the ones benefiting from minority protection. When President Trump pressed Republicans to kill the filibuster, our Democratic colleagues cried foul.”

As McConnell noted, the campaign to employ the “nuclear option” is not new. For years, Democrats, even traditional constitutionalists, vowed to take “urgent and effective action” to ensure the filibuster would not stand in their way, especially if Biden was elected and they regained control of Congress.

“I will not stand idly by for four years and watch the Biden administration’s initiatives blocked at every turn,” Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said in an interview last June. “I am going to try really hard to find a path forward that doesn’t require removing what’s left of the structural guardrails, but if there’s a Biden administration, it will be inheriting a mess, at home and abroad. It requires urgent and effective action.”

Some of these same legislators, however, have also expressed concerns about filibuster reform in the past, especially after former President Donald Trump suggested it, warning that it essentially turns the Senate into the House of Representatives and prevents the minority party from having a say in lawmaking.

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