The buzz about Senate Democrats killing the filibuster is growing louder and louder.
What You Need To Know
- The buzz about Senate Democrats killing the filibuster is growing louder and louder
- Axios reported Wednesday that President Joe Biden is fully prepared to support eliminating the filibuster in order to pass legislation important to him
- Sen. Angus King of Maine wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post on Wednesday saying Republicans are leaving Democrats little choice but to end the filibuster
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned that killing the filibuster would result in chaos in the Senate, with members motivated to go “scorched earth"
Now with control of the House, Senate, and White House, Democrats are eager to enact their agenda, but current Senate rules require 60 votes in order to advance most legislation, a threshold that some Democrats see more as a impenetrable roadblock in the 50-50 chamber.
Axios reported Wednesday, citing people close to President Joe Biden, that the president is fully prepared to support eliminating the filibuster in order to pass legislation important to him. Such a move could pave the way to enact sweeping measures on gun control, voting rights, and infrastructure.
Last week, Biden told ABC News he favors a return to the old-fashioned "talking filibuster," which would delay, but not halt legislation.
"I don't think you have to eliminate the filibuster," Biden said. "You have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate, and that is that [with] a filibuster you had to stand up and command the floor. Once you stopped talking, you lost that and someone could move in and say, 'I move the question of.' So you’ve got to work for the filibuster."
The president said, with the current filibuster rules, "it almost is getting to the point where democracy's having a hard time functioning."
The prospect of a filibuster-free Senate is only chatter now, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told MSNBC last week it’s under consideration.
“We will test our Republican friends,” Schumer said. “ … We will see on very popular issues where Republicans stand. … And if they go along with us, great. But if not, as I said, we are going to have to put our heads together in our caucus and figure out the best way. Everything’s on the table.”
Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post on Wednesday saying he has mixed feelings about ending the filibuster but that Republicans are leaving Democrats little choice.
King argued that the filibuster should only be used “sparingly or on major issues” or “in a good-faith effort to leverage concessions rather than to simply obstruct.”
“If, however, the minority hangs together and regularly uses this power to block any and all initiatives of the majority (and their president), supporting the continuation of the rule becomes harder and harder to justify, regardless of the long-term consequences,” he wrote.
King said he doesn’t believe the filibuster should be used to block voting rights protections and that, if forced to choose between passing the Democratic voting rights bill or protecting the filibuster, “I know where I will come down.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has warned that killing the filibuster would result in chaos in the Senate, with members motivated to go “scorched earth.”
As majority leader, McConnell resisted calls from former President Donald Trump to end the filibuster, but did invoke the “nuclear option” to push through Trump’s three Supreme Court nominees.
“This is the power grab. It’s all about trying to take over the American election system,” McConnell said during a news conference Tuesday. “It has all kinds of flaws.”
McConnell was asked by Spectrum News' Eva McKend about the filibuster’s historical ties to racism and whether he was concerned that Republicans’ efforts to protect the rule while fighting the voting rights bill could be viewed unfavorably by minorities. The Kentucky Republican argued there was no connection.
“It has no racial history at all. None,” he said. “So there's no dispute among historians about that. I make no apologies for opposing this bill.”
The fact-checking website Politifact says the origin of the filibuster indeed had nothing to do with slavery or segregation but that historians agree the tactic was closely affiliated with opposition to civil rights for more than a century.
Nevertheless, McConnell argued: “If it were related to civil rights, why were the Democrats using the tool last year, and the year before that, and the last six years? Why is it all of a sudden a civil rights issue when it wasn't for them as recently as last year?”
In an interview Monday on “The Truth with Lisa Boothe” podcast, Trump said, as president, he warned McConnell that Democrats would do away with the filibuster whenever they regained control of the Senate and that Republicans should have stayed a step ahead of them.
“If they get the filibuster, if they knock it out, it will be catastrophic for the Republican Party,” Trump said.
“They're going to attack the Second Amendment violently, which I've told everybody they go to attack. Yeah, they're going to attack the Supreme Court,” he added, referring to the possibility of stacking the court.
If Democrats try to move forward with eliminating the filibuster, they’ll need the blessing of Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist Democrat. That might be a tall order.
Earlier this month, Manchin suggested in a “Meet the Press” interview that he was open to changing Senate rules to allow for a “talking filibuster,” but then clarified to Politico two days later that he continues to support an effective 60-vote hurdle for legislation.
Manchin told CNN on Tuesday he doesn’t support scrapping the filibuster to pass gun reform.
"We got to work together here,” he said. “Why don't you ask people when was the last time they took time to talk to some of the people on this side?”