The filibuster and the future of senate

The filibuster and the future of senate

Could it be the end of the filibuster in US law making, asks Lincoln Mitchell.

New York (Brussels Morning) One of the most important debates in American politics today is around the senate filibuster. The filibuster is not in the Constitution, nor is it a law. Rather it is a senate rule that has changed and evolved over time. In its current form it is not so much a real filibuster as it is a requirement for cloture. In layperson’s terms, that means that currently almost any bill requires 60 of the 100 senators to vote to end debate before a vote on the bill can be taken. Practically speaking this means that all it takes to block any legislation is for the minority party to have 41 votes. As the senate has become a more deeply partisan institution, this makes it extremely difficult to pass any legislation.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, and, because of the For the People Act that is currently in front of the senate, the future of American democracy, both depend on abolishing the filibuster. Again, because the filibuster is a senate rule it would only take all 50 Democratic senators, and a tie-breaking vote from vice-president Kamala Harris, to end the filibuster.

As recently as a year ago, it seemed very unlikely that the filibuster would be significantly altered.