Democrats Urge Leadership to Limit Filibuster Even Further
Following Harry Reid’s “nuclear” rules change in the Senate, Republicans can no longer force Democrats to round up 60 votes to defeat a filibuster of a presidential nominee. While many Democrats rejoiced, others like Vermont Senators Pat Leahy and Bernie Sanders urged leaders to limit filibuster use even further.
“We were brought up to believe that in our democracy the majority rules. In the United States Senate, unfortunately, on virtually every piece of major legislation the majority does not rule. Only a supermajority rules. Republicans have used parliamentary delaying tactics and demanded 60 votes to even debate bills, let alone pass legislation,” Sanders said.
Sanders published a list of vital legislation that would have passed the Senate under a traditional majority-rule vote on his Senate website. The most recent bill under the 113th Congress was the Manchin-Toomey Background Checks bill that polls found was supported by the American public by a margin of 9-to-1. The bill received 54 votes but, because Republicans threatened to filibuster, the Democrats needed 60 votes to end the debate and vote for the bill.
The Senate could have also passed two bills that would have kept student loan interest down with 51 votes in favor but could not defeat the filibuster. Even a vote to postpone the sequester, a double-edged sword of budget cuts, only got 51 votes.
The 112th Congress was no different. Senate Republicans blocked the passage of the Bring Jobs Home Act which would have given tax credits to companies who bring their business from overseas to the US. They blocked a Small Business Jobs bill that would have given small businesses a tax break if their 2012 payrolls were higher than the previous year’s. The GOP blocked a bill that would require millionaires to pay at least 30 percent in taxes and prevented them from using loopholes to lower their rate.
The number of filibusters and filibuster threats have exploded in recent years. The number of motions filed to end debate and potential filibuster threats rarely exceeded 60 times per session of Congress until the 1990s when the Republicans took over the Congress. Since Obama took office, the number of motions filed has exceeded 120 regularly.
(Image courtesy of AFGE)