While the media likes to portray the current gridlock on legislation in the Senate as a battle of wills, casting Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema as the primary villains who are obstructing the Biden administration’s agenda, Sen. Angus King who caucuses with the Democrats decided to set the record straight during his Wednesday interview with MSNBC. All too often, and all too easily, the GOP’s determination to blindly fall in line and oppose every legislative measure however small manages to reflect poorly on the Democrats who draw the ire of voters for not doing enough to prevent it. It’s now inevitable that senators particularly within the Democratic Party will be asked during interviews about their position on the filibuster.
This time, King came prepared with a solid answer when he sat down with Nicolle Wallace: “Instead of requiring 60 votes to go ahead, you require 40 votes to stop. That means they have to show up. So as I say, there are going to be lots of discussions. I believe, Nicolle, that you’re going to see some changes in the filibuster as a result not of what the Democrats and the Democratic caucus want to do but because the Republicans won’t even discuss the issue.”
Republicans have been hoping that Democrats give into the hype of much of social media about finally abolishing the filibuster and that this should make them seem too extreme in the eyes of any voters who are still on the sidelines. However, King’s talk about rule changes to pass voting rights legislation should be a way to change the conversation about how the rules that Republicans are constantly rewriting can be fixed once again to make the filibuster more difficult to do. King didn’t actually propose anything solid – which would imply that he doesn’t have the power to do what he’s proposing – but this is certainly a way to go about pressuring his fellow senators to do the right thing without acting like Republicans are getting away with it all yet again. We can win this – and pass the agenda America desperately needs right now.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making