How Close Are We To Filibuster Reform?

Since President Joe Biden first ascended to office flanked by the barest effective Senate majority — an evenly split chamber and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote — one Senate rule has earned more ink than any other: the filibuster. In its current form, the filibuster demands 60 votes to proceed to debate on most legislation.

Republicans have made clear for years now that undermining a Democratic president’s success trumps their desire to pass legislation, even on issue areas where the parties share some commonality. As a result, the quest to get 10 Republicans on board for Biden’s legislative priorities is virtually impossible. Republicans have already used the filibuster to blockade an independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection and Democrats’ signature voting rights package, S.1. The threat of the filibuster has stymied other legislation from even reaching that point. 

As a result of the promise of constant GOP obstruction and short timeline to pass major legislation before the 2022 midterms, pressure has been ratcheted up on Democrats to do away with the rule entirely, or at least to reform it in a way that stops giving an obstinate minority veto power. Both parties have opted to change the filibuster rules in the past, including to eliminate it for Supreme Court nominees. 

I’ve done my best to track where the 50 Democratic senators land on the issue — but if you know something more, please reach out to talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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