Reform Advocates Call for End of Filibuster
Friday, January 29, 2021
NEW YORK - Although Democrats now have a razor-thin majority in the U.S. Senate, political-reform advocates say to pass progressive legislation they first will have to eliminate the filibuster.
By requiring a 60-vote majority to bring most legislation to a vote in the Senate, the filibuster rule allows a minority of senators to block important legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has tried to force the Democrats to promise to keep that rule now that they hold the majority.
But according to Eli Zupnick, spokesperson for the group Fix Our Senate, leaving the filibuster in place will invite a repetition of the political obstruction that took place during the Obama administration.
"If the filibuster is allowed to continue to exist," said Zupnick, "then Mitch McConnell will continue to be able to stop anything that voters just handed Democrats the power to influence."
Supporters of the filibuster say it ensures conservatives will have a place in negotiations, but opponents counter that it allows a few senators to stop legislation vital to the interests of all Americans, including New Yorkers.
Zupnick said New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the new majority leader, is trying to make sure bills to protect public health and rebuild an economy devastated by the COVID pandemic can get to the Senate floor for a vote and have a chance to pass.
"Sen. Schumer has shown great leadership in pushing back against Mitch McConnell's demands to protect the filibuster and enshrine that in the Senate rules right from the start of this new Senate," said Zupnick.
He added that while there are now fifty senators from each party, Senate Democrats actually represent far more voters than do the Republicans.
With many Democrats coming from more densely populated states, they represent tens of millions more voters than their counterparts across the aisle. Zupnick said the filibuster "supercharges" that imbalance.
"It makes it so that a tiny minority of senators, sometimes senators representing just 13% of the American people," said Zupnick, "can block the will of the vast majority of Americans and stop legislation that's overwhelmingly popular from being implemented."
If every Democrat agrees, they could eliminate the filibuster by using what's called the "nuclear option", changing the Senate rule with a simple 51-vote majority.
get more stories like this via email
LANSING, Mich. - High utility costs are a major burden for Michigan's low-income residents, and a new study says they have an impact on their health…
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A new report shows an effort by investor-owned utilities in the Sunshine State to block the growth of rooftop solar. The …
Health and Wellness
By Troy Pierson / Broadcast version by Mary Schuermann reporting for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration. As marijuana becomes more …
SALT LAKE CITY - With rising numbers of people targeted in hate crimes and related violence, a new report analyzes the hate-crime laws in each state…
BOSTON - Educators' unions are calling on the state to support their efforts to ensure in-person learning in the fall keeps students, teachers…
HARTFORD, Conn. - In Connecticut, more than 460,000 people care for close friends or family members who can't manage on their own - and their …
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Millions of Americans soon could find eviction notices on their front doors, but New Mexico renters will not be among them - as …
Health and Wellness
CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire advocates for affordable healthcare access want Congress to lower prescription costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate …