Florida newspaper editorial urges Senate to kill the filibuster 'for the sake of democracy and our future'
Although Democrats now control the White House and have majorities in both branches of Congress, bills passed by the U.S. House of Representatives are facing an uphill club in the U.S. Senate — where, thanks to the filibuster and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, everything from voting rights to a January 6 commission has been running into a brick wall. The Palm Beach Post's editorial board, in an editorial published on July 3, argues that there is only one solution for Democrats: "kill the filibuster."
Under the rules of the filibuster, most bills need 60 votes in order to pass in the U.S. Senate. Bills passed through the process known as budget reconciliation are an exception and can pass with a simple majority if they qualify as budgetary matters, but voting rights and a January 6 commission — just to give two examples — don't qualify.
"Last week," the Post's editorial board explains, "the Senate stopped action on the For the People Act, the wide-ranging set of voting reforms drafted by Democrats to make elections fairer and more representative. No one was surprised. Americans have become completely inured to seeing good ideas go to the Senate and die: from stricter gun laws after the slaughter of Sandy Hook schoolchildren to a congressional commission to probe the January 6 attack on that very same Congress."
The editorial lays out some more reasons why "it's time to get rid of the filibuster."
"The issue is usually framed as Republicans versus Democrats," the Post's editorial board notes. "But that barely describes what's at stake. In reality, this is between the Republican Party and the wishes of most of the American people."
The Post's editorial board continues, "Take the For the People Act, which this editorial board has supported since it was first proposed in 2019. It's overwhelmingly popular. Sixty-five percent of likely voters said, in a May poll by Data for Progress, that they support the bill. Decisive majorities favor its provisions for e-voting security, donor transparency, early voting, automatic voter registration, making Election Day a holiday, and more."
Getting rid the filibuster, however, is easier said than done. Some centrist Democrats — most notably, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — are adamantly opposed to ending it.
"Defenders of the filibuster say it's an important tradition," the Post's editorial board notes. "Baloney. The framers of the Constitution laid forth a Senate that made most decisions by a simple majority. Nowadays, that would mean 51 votes. It wasn't until the mid-1800s that conservative slaveowners, led by South Carolina's Sen. John C. Calhoun, devised the filibuster to slow-talk to death any legislation that would slow the growth of slavery…. It was McConnell, in our modern era, who weaponized the filibuster into an everyday maneuver."
The Post's editorial board goes on to argue that at this point, the filibuster only works to advantage of a "conservative minority."
"Consider that in today's Senate, split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, the 50 Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than the 50 Republicans do," the Post's editorial board observes. "The Rs are the Ds' match in political power, even though they speak for many fewer people…. For the sake of democracy and our future, kill the filibuster. "
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