During a new appearance on MSNBC, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) once again made the case for changing the Senate’s filibuster rules in order to allow for the passage of new protections at the federal level for voting rights. At present, those filibuster rules demand that at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber agree before moving forward on most bills, but — no matter the theoretical appeal of bipartisanship that some may find in that — these provisions mean that members of the chamber’s minority can block the majority from being able to get things done, despite pushes from voters. Allowing for a minority of Senators to block a majority from taking action to protect voting rights seems antithetical to democracy.
In state after state, Republican legislatures have passed laws making it harder to vote, all on a purely partisan basis with simple majority votes. The Senate can’t ignore an all-out assault against free and fair elections. And we can’t let the filibuster get in our way.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 9, 2022
As Clyburn explained it, there are already exceptions to the Senate’s filibuster rules for important budget-related issues, so why can’t there be a similar exception for voting rights? Even the language matches — “budget reconciliation” refers to the process of passing certain spending-related bills without the need for worrying about the filibuster process, but reconciliation could easily be the language of protecting Constitutional rights, as much as it’s about fixing the budget. As Clyburn commented:
‘We have seen the willingness on the part of the Senate, historically and even recently — historically, we have reconciliation, so the full faith and credit of the United States can not be filibustered. And we recently had a carve-out to raise the debt limit… My view is that reconciliation is a term much more aptly applied to Constitutional issues than to budget issues. So I think that we should all be pushing for this… exception to filibustering, and let’s move forward and visit the filibuster rule in total at a later date… We must move forward on voting legislation, because if we don’t, this fragile fabric that we call democracy will become unraveled.’
Check out Clyburn’s comments below:
If the Senate can use the reconciliation process to ensure our nation's full faith & credit can't be filibustered, we ought to have a similar rule for voting rights. The fragile fabric that we call our democracy will unravel if we don't protect the most fundamental right to vote. pic.twitter.com/AgSjdpwvXp
— James E. Clyburn (@WhipClyburn) January 8, 2022
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has already announced that the Senate will be taking up the matter of changing the filibuster rules to accommodate the passage of new protections for voting rights this month… but it’s unclear whether there’s been any change in the positions held by so-called moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Changing the filibuster rules would require the agreement of a majority in the chamber, and Manchin and Sinema have been among those clinging to the outdated provisions. President Joe Biden himself, though, has announced that he supports changing the filibuster rules to help with the enactment of voting rights protections. As he recently put it: “If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting it passed is the filibuster, I support making the exception of voting rights for the filibuster.”
I used to believe that the filibuster forced sides to engage more—but recent events have forced us to reevaluate. Modern times require modern reform. We can’t let something as urgent and consequential as voting rights be lost to an arcane procedural tool.
— Bob Casey Jr. (@Bob_Casey) January 4, 2022