Samilow | Senate Democrats’ Foolish Filibuster Gambit

With the inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-G.A.) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-G.A.) on January 20, Democrats took control of the Senate for the first time in six years. 

Holding united control of the federal government for the first time in a decade, many Democrats have pushed to eliminate the Senate’s legislative filibuster, which effectively requires 60 votes to pass most legislation. If Democrats do not do away with the filibuster to allow legislation to pass by simple majority, most of their priorities will die in the Senate. In the Senate Democratic Caucus, only Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-A.Z.) have stated that they are categorically opposed to invoking the so-called “nuclear option.” While their stubborn stance has infuriated some Democrats, Manchin and Sinema are likely saving the party from an impulsive, ill-advised power play.Senate Democrats weren’t always in favor of eliminating the filibuster. In April 2017, when Republicans held the White House, Senate and House, 61 senators, representing a majority of the Democratic Caucus, signed a letter supporting maintaining the 60-vote threshold and preserving the rights of the minority. 

Over the course of the Trump administration, the filibuster was continually invoked to thwart the Republican agenda, holding up everything from border wall funding to abortion restrictions. It is only now that Democrats are in the majority, that they claim the filibuster needs to go.