At long last, a sitting Democratic President of the United States has publicly announced that he is in favor of having the U.S. Senate operate as the Constitution intended.
President Biden, himself a relic of the Senate, announced at the G-&7 this morning that he is willing to suspend the archaic filibuster rules in the upper chamber — in order to codify abortion rights into law. This means NOT requiring 60 votes to pass a law.
As immensely important an issue of abortion rights is — and it is — the bigger news this today is that the sitting Democratic President of the United States has finally relented and announced that he is in favor of allowing (non-voting rights) legislation to pass with 51 votes. The urgency of the Democrats wanting to codify abortion rights into law is the impetus for this new exception that Joe Biden now backs.
This issue of requiring 60 votes in the Senate through the filibuster shouldn’t even be an issue — if you believe in the Constitution. In that document, which is the very basis for our country’s existence, we learn that our system is based on majority rule. You might remember hearing reading about this concept back in grade school. If not, you can go look it up right now; you’ll find it in both the Quorum and Presentment clauses. (“Originalism,” anyone? Ah, super-nerd irony)…
Do you know why there were enough anti-choice Justices on this High Court — six — to make the decision they did last week? It’s because former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell eradicated the filibuster rules when it came to confirming SCOTUS nominations. He dropped it to 51 votes, which allowed the last president to choose three nominees that were as far right as he pleased — because they were guaranteed to be confirmed.
I’ve been complaining and explaining for a decade that the filibuster holds up the business of the nation. Worse, it allows one person to hold up that progress. We are a country of 330 million Americans.
McConnell played hardball and went back on his own word when he dropped the fililbuster on judges. And when the time eventually comes when the GOP desperately wants a bill passed — and has the majority in the Senate — count on them to play hardball again and drop that threshold to 51 votes. Will the Democrats do that now?
I’ve always said that I’d rather have the filibuster be entirely vanished (President Obama and Senator Warren joined the team in 2020, and now another 20 Senators are there), it is still an important day because of the President’s statement that he’s at least willing to make exceptions.
Yes, there are still a couple of Democrats in the Senate who won’t pull the trigger yet — but a president’s words and weight matter. Even Biden’s.
There are some things in the Constitution that are open to interpretation and that’s why we have a Supreme Court in the first place. But operating our government according to majority rule is what our entire system is based upon.
The filibuster, as Obama finally described two years ago, is a “Jim Crow relic.”
Way to go, Joe. Nuke it. Let’s unlock Congress.