‘The Filibuster Is the Only Thing Preventing an Onslaught of Progressive Legislation’
June 3, 2021
|AUSTIN, Texas — All Americans, no matter what side of the political aisle they’re on, have just witnessed the use of the Senate filibuster—and how important this key legislative tool is to our country. |
Senate Republicans on Friday used the filibuster to block passage of a Democratic-pushed, House-passed bill that would have created an ambitious new panel to probe the January 6th Capitol Hill riots—a panel that six Republicans, bucking party leadership, voted for along with all 50 Democrats. It was the first filibuster of the Biden administration by the Senate’s 50-seat minority. The filibuster now “likely dooms the prospects of any independent investigation” into the Capitol riots, as Politico noted on Friday.
Debbie Wuthnow, president of iVoterGuide, has been highlighting the significance of the filibuster since January—and she believes all Americans must appreciate why this vital legislative tool must be maintained, despite the political wishes of most Democrats who want it gone. “The filibuster is the only thing preventing an onslaught of progressive legislation right now,” says Wuthnow. “All of us need to understand the filibuster and why it must remain in place.”
As Wuthnow clearly explains, “A filibuster is a tactic that prevents a measure from being voted on—and it applies only to the Senate. The filibuster is part of a system of protections that ensures slow, incremental change to our legislation. A supermajority is required to pass most legislation in the Senate because the Senate is the place where reasoned debate is supposed to take place—with compromise and bipartisan agreement. So the Senate requires a three-fifths majority (60 senators) to end debate, break a filibuster, and call a vote. This is called the Rule of Cloture.
“Today, only two Democratic senators are standing in the way of its abolition, having stated their opposition to getting rid of the filibuster,” adds Wuthnow. “Those senators are Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).”
Wuthnow urges voters to not just embrace the importance of the filibuster—but to take action as American citizens with a vested interest in the future of our country as we know it. “Please call the offices of Sens. Manchin and Sinema and thank them for holding the line,” says Wuthnow. “They are doing the right thing even under intense pressure. Please encourage them to continue to do the right thing and keep the filibuster. Your encouragement is so important! One of the strengths of the American system of government is that we don’t have wild swings of policy depending on the majority in Congress,” she adds.
Sen. Joe Manchin can be reached at (202) 224-3954; Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, at (202) 224-4521.
Adds Wuthnow, “Please forward this request to any friends or family in West Virginia or Arizona, as support from their own constituents is most valuable.” Wuthnow says as well, “The filibuster—this one procedure—is currently the only thing holding back a fundamental transformation of America, and by extension, your daily life.”
Even before this past Friday, the Senate filibuster has been the subject of major debate, given that Democrats control the White House, the House, and the 50-50 Senate (the latter due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris). To overcome a filibuster, Senate Democrats need support from at least 10 Republicans, “a heavy lift in a time of intense partisanship,” as the AP pointed out. That’s why progressives and liberals have been clamoring for an end to the filibuster. Now, Friday’s first GOP filibuster against the Biden administration may push Democrats “closer to curbing or eliminating” the filibuster, the AP argued.
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