Connect with Point of View   to get exclusive commentary and updates

The Filibuster

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

Is it possible that sometime in the future, the US Senate will end the filibuster? When he was a Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid ended the filibuster for judicial nominees. That was done to help President Obama get nominees through Senate confirmation. Now it is helping President Trump with his nominees.

David French is concerned that Democrats might want to end the filibuster in the future, and that “could break American politics.” He raises this question because of an op-ed in The New York Times that has now led to other editorials and commentaries. The argument is simple. Even if Democrats elect a president and even if they are able to control both the House and Senate, they will never pass controversial legislation like the Green New Deal.

We are a divided country. The parties are polarized. Major pieces of legislation (especially controversial pieces of legislation) will not make it through the US Senate as long as a 60-vote requirement remains. That’s why some are ready to end the filibuster. They look at the facts and say, “Step on the gas.” David French looks at the same facts and says, “Tap the brakes.”

I have always had a problem with the filibuster because it allows a minority to prevent the implementation of the majority. A majority of Senators (as many of 59) cannot get legislation passed if 41 senators do not vote for cloture, which would end debate and allow a vote on a bill.

On the other hand, I see the value of keeping the filibuster. A Democrat Congress passed the Affordable Care Act without one Republican vote when the filibuster was in place. Imagine the legislation that might fly through the Senate if the Democratic leadership ended the filibuster!

It is worth having this discussion now. And it is worth seeing whether ending the filibuster makes it into the Democratic platform in 2020. We need to keep the Senate filibuster.

viewpoints new web version

The Filibuster

00:00 /