During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) laid out the case for eliminating the filibuster in the Senate, which would allow for an easier enactment of key items on the Democratic agenda. Currently, the Senate’s filibuster rules demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before proceeding, including to a final vote, on most bills, and at present, that entails necessary support from at least 10 Republicans for most legislative moves because of the Senate’s current party breakdown. This procedural attempt at forcing some semblance of so-called bipartisanship allows Republicans to stop progress.
On Meet the Press, Ocasio-Cortez specifically responded to an argument from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who suggested that eliminating the filibuster in the Senate to allow for the passage of legislation like voting rights protections could end up essentially pointless in the event that Republicans regain the Senate majority and then easily reverse it all. Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that Democratic agenda items are “popular.” Indeed, recent polling reveals high levels of public support for key voting rights protections that are associated with Democratic ambitions. Meanwhile, bills that are already in place like the Affordable Care Act are also generally popular.
Ocasio-Cortez characterized Sinema’s pro-filibuster position as “defeatism.” As Ocasio-Cortez put it, Congresspersons’ “job is to legislate.” She commented as follows:
‘Political systems all across the world pass legislation with majorities and they’re fine, and frankly, here’s the thing… Democratic legislation, once enacted, is popular. Republicans have tried to gut Social Security. They’ve tried to reverse the ACA. They’ve tried to claw back on legislation that has passed by simple majorities in the Senate, and they haven’t been able to, because Democratic policies are popular, and once they are enacted, they are very politically difficult to undo. And so I do not believe in the defeatism of saying we will lose in the future, and this will automatically mean that anything we do now is going to be reversed, so we might as well not do anything now. Our job is to legislate. Our job is to help people. Our job is to do as much as we can.’
Check out Ocasio-Cortez’s comments below:
Ocasio-Cortez: "Political systems all across the world pass legislations with majorities and they're fine." pic.twitter.com/XBaJLQWGLX
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 27, 2021
Senate Republicans have already employed the filibuster during this Congressional session against two prominent pieces of legislation, including a bill that would have created an independent commission to investigate the Capitol riot and the For the People Act, a monumental piece of voting rights and anti-corruption legislation. As for the first matter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced the creation of a select committee to investigate the Capitol violence. That committee, like other Congressional panels, will have abilities like the power to issue subpoenas.