The filibuster has been the source of much of the drama on Capitol Hill throughout 2021, with some acting as if the abolition of it would be a magic bullet for every piece of legislation Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats are hoping to pass while they occupy 50 seats and a tie-breaking vote. In reality, things are a bit more nuanced and complex – with every senator bearing in mind what consequences total elimination of the filibuster would bring. This is part of the reason why Mitch McConnell said he would keep it intact even when he was the senate majority leader for six years and had a 52-48 majority.
There are, of course, ways around the filibuster that the Democrats have been exploring for much of the year and ways to make them happen – and a major step has been taken in this direction today. With BBB temporarily on hold, Democrats are now looking for a way to pass new voting rights legislation that will counteract the swath of voting suppression bills being promoted by Republican governors in multiple states. Without voting rights, just retaining the majorities to make legislation happen could be impossible, as these laws target the people least likely to vote Republican for a reason.
Now President Biden, who largely remained silent in the debate over filibuster reform, is signaling that he’s supporting a change in the rules when it comes to voting rights legislation – potentially making it so the legislation would be able to pass with just a simple majority in the Senate, as there is currently little promise of Republican senators coming around to protect the right to vote. This could mean that in January we are on the verge of seeing some crucial shifting when it comes to Democrats making good on their two big promises to the American people, ahead of the 2022 elections at a critical time.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making