The Guardian: ‘Everything is on the table’: Senate prepares for showdown over filibuster
The Guardian: 'Everything is on the table': Senate prepares for showdown over filibuster
The US Senate is rapidly hurtling towards a high stakes showdown over the filibuster, a once arcane procedural maneuver that stands in the way of Democratic efforts to pass sweeping voting rights legislation, among other measures.
A fight over the filibuster, which sets a 60-vote threshold to move legislation forward, seemed inevitable after Democrats narrowly took control of the senate in January. But urgency has escalated in recent weeks as Republicans in state legislatures across the country aggressively push new voting restrictions.
The Senate last week introduced S1, a vast voting rights bill that already passed the US House. With the filibuster fully in place, it doesn’t stand a chance of passing.
And the problem for Democrats is that there is no consensus in the Senate caucus about what, exactly, they should do about the filibuster. Some Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona the most prominent among them, are staunchly opposed to getting rid of the procedure entirely, saying it guarantees the minority has input into lawmaking. That means Senate Democrats will probably have to find some way of moderating the rule to allow them to pass legislation. …
“Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” McConnell said. “Even the most basic aspects of our colleagues’ agenda, the most mundane tasks of the Biden presidency, would be harder, not easier, for Democrats in a post-‘nuclear’ Senate that’s 50-50.”
McConnell sent that warning even though it was he who eliminated the filibuster for supreme court nominees in 2017 to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed.
Despite those warnings, Stephen Spaulding, senior counsel for public policy and government affairs at Common Cause, a government watchdog group, said that Democrats needed to keep every option on the table.
“Senate Democrats have the majority and they need to have the ability to govern,” he said. “This idea that it can be costless to filibuster, that you can essentially raise your hands behind closed doors and grind everything to a halt, is unacceptable.”