Who Supports Ending the Filibuster?

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September 10, 2020 1:04 p.m.

Two big non-policy/legislative questions and decisions will determine the politics of the coming years. One is whether there is an audit of the executive branch after Trump leaves office, if he loses the election on November 3rd. But just as important in its own way is whether the Senate filibuster is abolished. You can basically guarantee that no progressive legislation will ever get passed as long as the filibuster exists. The filibuster is undemocratic to start with. But the Republican party’s extreme use of it along with their locked in small state advantage mean that the GOP has what amounts to a permanent veto on all legislation and a guaranteed veto of any progressive legislation.

So I’m curious to find out what Democratic Senators – or Republican Senators for that matter – support abolishing the legislative filibuster on day one of the next Congress. This is only a practical question if the Democrats win back the Senate. But the question is the same in principle regardless.

The current thinking from Chuck Schumer seems to be that, assuming the Democrats win the Senate, he’ll keep abolition in his back pocket if Republicans obstruct legislation. This is a bad, bad idea. We’ve seen this movie before. In 2009, a group of Republican Senators – who clearly had no intention of ever supporting any health care insurance reform legislation – got President Obama and Democratic Senators to waste a year and water down legislation by engaging in meandering and ultimately bad faith negotiations.

Just as importantly, this ‘hold it in reserve’ approach will inevitably shape all potential legislation from the outset. The shape of legislation you write to pass with simple majorities is quite different than legislation you craft to try to coax Republican senators into allowing you to pass legislation with 51 votes.

It all comes down to a simple point. The legislative filibuster needs to end on day one of the next Congress. And if Democrats control the chamber it can happen. But will it?

I’m curious to see where folks stand. So see if you can find out. Contact your Senator and ask whether they support abolishing the legislative filibuster on day one of the next Congress. Be polite and be sure to push for a clear answer. The details and wording count. Then let me know what you hear.

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