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? Why bills with strong public support never seem to come up for a vote? 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 grind the Senate to a halt 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. Some recent examples?
Voting rights: BLOCKED
Climate change action: BLOCKED
Common-sense gun reform: BLOCKED
The DREAM Act: BLOCKED
These and so many other popular reforms with massive public support will continue to be blocked by the filibuster unless we act. This should not be a partisan issue. The filibuster is an outdated Jim Crow relic that stands in the way of a functioning government and meaningful progress on almost every issue.
Thankfully, the solution for getting rid of the filibuster is shockingly easy: It only requires a simple majority vote in the Senate. This is because the filibuster itself is not a part of the Constitution. 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 raise the minimum wage to $15 and restore the Voting Rights Act. 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.
It’s up to us and our senators to convince moderate senators — like West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin — and staunch institutionalists, who may be afraid of change, to meet the moment and stop standing in the way of progress.
Our senators — every single one of them — must hear from their constituents that we want an end to the filibuster and the beginning of meaningful progress for the American people.