Have you ever wondered why Congress can’t seem to pass meaningful legislation? Why over the past few years big, sweeping bills are able to fly through the House, but rarely ever make it through the Senate? Who controls Congress has a huge impact. But there’s a second reason: the Senate filibuster.
For decades, the filibuster has been used to water down, delay, and defeat landmark civil rights legislation and anti-lynching bills.
Fast forward to today and the filibuster is being used and abused all the time to halt progress in the Senate and prevent almost any legislation without 60 senators backing it from passing. That means a minority of 41 senators can stop any bill from becoming law.
Throughout 2021, voting rights legislation that a majority of the American people support was filibustered three times. Then in January 2022, Senate Democrats had secured 51 votes in support of two pieces of landmark voting rights legislation, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
A simple majority should have been enough to protect and expand voting for the American people—but the effort failed because of the filibuster. 48 Republican senators, with the help of two Democratic senators, were able to stop voting rights legislation in its tracks.
The filibuster is an outdated Jim Crow relic that stands in the way of a functioning government and meaningful progress on almost every issue.
Reforming or ending the filibuster only requires a simple majority vote in the Senate because the filibuster itself is not a part of the Constitution. It is not enshrined in our founding documents. It’s just a rule that the senators themselves created.
The filibuster has been reformed four times since the 1970s. The most recent amendment to the filibuster happened as recently as 2017, when Mitch McConnell and conservative senators changed it to allow for Trump’s Supreme Court justices to be confirmed by a simple majority.
If conservatives can get rid of the filibuster for a lifetime Supreme Court appointment, we can get rid of the filibuster to protect voting rights. Given the enormity of the challenges we face as a nation, it’s time to eliminate the structural barriers that prevent us from addressing them, including the filibuster.
The Path to Winning
If we want our government to be responsive to the will of the people and be able to pass laws through both chambers of Congress, we must restore functionality to the Senate. That begins with eliminating the filibuster.
Even with the setbacks we’ve faced in getting rid of the filibuster, we must continue to fight to end it and clear the way for progress — and that starts by electing more democracy champions to the Senate who are willing to vote to eliminate it.
Commit to volunteering with us and ensure the senators that represent us will stand on the right side of history: