Democratic activists plot demise of Phil E. Buster

This article contains news with liberal commentary.

“Democratic insiders are assembling a coalition behind the scenes to wage an all-out war on the Senate filibuster in … anticipation of sweeping the 2020 election,” NBC News reported on Friday, September 11, 2020. Read story here.

The filibuster is already gone for judicial appointments and budget bills, but remains a potent weapon for blocking other legislation. Historically, it took two-thirds of senators to invoke cloture, or shut down a filibuster; but in those days, filibustering senators had to actually talk until they dropped. In recent years, that procedure has been replaced by an informal rule that legislation doesn’t advance if more than 39 senators oppose it, and nobody has to lose sleep or talk themselves hoarse to enforce it.

The basic concept behind the filibuster might have been defensible back when it was judiciously used, but Republicans have weaponized it to block all Democratic nominees and legislation, so it’s time to get rid of it, otherwise the country will be ungovernable; or, worse, will be governed by presidential decree in the vacuum created by a hamstrung Congress.

There are obvious drawbacks to replacing consent of the minority with flat-out majority rule. But when the filibuster is corrupted and misused, there’s really no acceptable alternative. Senate rules are flexible and subject to change, and it can always be brought back again, if obstructionism gives way to negotiation and compromise.

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  1. Mark Adams #

    It was good enough for Cato the Younger. Ceasar did not need that triumph after all, deciding to accept the consulship.

    It is a device used by the minority, once gone you change the Senate. The worlds greatest deliberating body.

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