The Filibuster is an outdated Senate procedure that effectively stops dead a piece of legislation that is being decided on. It is not part of the Constitution and was only created via Senate rules instituted in 1806. Rarely used until the 20th century, a Senator would actively have to stop discussion by not yielding the floor for long as possible, ostensibly explaining their opposition to the proposed legislation, but not always. Noted hypocrite sex pest racist Strom Thurmond read from the phone book while using the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act for 24 hours.
In recent years, thanks to a Two Track system intended to deter a filibuster from blocking other Senate business, has led to senators simply putting forward an intent to filibuster. This has increased the power of the procedure as no one actually has to stand on the floor and speak. Moreover, a rule change to having a supermajority in order to end a filibuster, rather than a majority of senators present, has made the damn thing near impossible to end.
Recent discussions about either outright abolishing the filibuster or just modifying it remains highly contentious, as it is a powerful device, especially for the minority party. But, given the even split in the Senate and the egos of certain “moderate” Democrats from red states it has become all the more important to blunt its power in the face of passing badly needed legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. But there may be a way around it.
So, legislatures are wacky? They invent a bunch of rules to make things run smoothly, but they end up getting pretty byzantine. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently announced that he intends to use a procedure known as “messages between the Houses”. This is a form of reconciliation that bills must go through when the House and Senate disagree on the text of a bill. If this legislation goes through messages 3 times, bippity, boppity, boo, it cannot be filibustered. This will open it up for debate, rending of the garments by Ted Cruz, amendments, all that good stuff. And then, THEN, maybe, MAYBE the legislation will get passed.
Provided of course certain prideful assholes up to their ears in dark money donations in the Democratic Party don’t muck things up.
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