Democrats Put Historic Senate Filibuster Reform Under Urgent Consideration

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During a recent call with supporters, Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) said that reforming the filibuster “will be the next conversation” among Senate Democrats following Senate Republicans’ recent filibuster of the ambitious voting rights and anti-corruption legislation known as the For the People Act. In the Senate, filibuster rules demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward and to a final vote on most legislation, and with the Senate’s current party breakdown, that provision means that 10 Republicans have to back most bills for them to move forward. Thus, Republicans have a substantive opportunity to stall progress.

Observers have clamored for filibuster reform before it’s too late for changing the Senate’s filibuster rules to even help with enacting Democratic agenda items, but so far, moderate Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Krysten Sinema (Ariz.) have stuck by their support for the filibuster in the name of upholding bipartisanship — although they’re just about the only ones committed to that ideal, considering the consistent Republican opposition to even the most basic legislative steps. Do Manchin and Sinema not take Republicans’ refusal to even support having debate on certain bills as indicative that so-called bipartisanship could be a dead end?

Cortez-Masto, meanwhile, commented as follows:

‘One, I think — and I said this all along — if any issue forces this discussion as to do something and address the filibuster, it is the For the People Act. It is S.1 because it is crucial that we get this done… And I think what I see the next step will be, and I suspect this is part of the leadership’s thinking on this, is get everybody united on a piece of legislation around the For the People Act… and then the next conversation for all of us to have as Senate Democrats is the filibuster… and there is talk now about reforming the filibuster. The question will be what will that reform look like? And at the end of the day, is the final outcome a majority vote?’

Cortez-Masto also said that the issue “will be the next conversation we have,” and she insisted that she’s “hopeful” about Democrats’ ability to secure a level of progress. During the same call, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), another moderately inclined Democrat, also backed reforming the Senate’s filibuster rules, providing his support for the idea for the first (known) time. Check out remarks from Kelly, Cortez-Masto, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) regarding the filibuster below: