It’s been almost a year since Joe Biden became president and since the Democrats took control of the Senate and thus all three bodies of U.S. government. And yet, in that time, they haven’t gotten much done. One reason for that: the dreaded filibuster, the ages-old political procedure that gives whichever party is out of power (in this case, the Republicans) the ability to delay or block legislation they don’t like. But now there’s a chance — although not a very good one — that the filibuster could finally be scotched.
As per CNN, Chuck Schumer, who took the job of Senate majority leader away from Mitch McConnell after the 2020 election, told his colleagues Monday that he’s planning a vote on whether or not to eliminate the filibuster from the Senate, scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This will only happen, he said, if Republicans block Democrats’ voting and elections overhaul bill in the coming days.
“Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy,” Schumer said in the letter. “We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.”
Mind you, Schumer may simply not have the votes. All Democrats must be on-board for removing the filibuster, and the dynamic duo of Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have repeatedly announced they are against removing it (just as they’re against many of the Biden-era Democrats’ plans).
In his letter, Schumer described how the filibuster had evolved into a tool to gum up the wheels of Washington. “The weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction,” he wrote. “The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before. The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history.”
McConnell has vowed a “scorched earth” response should Democrats deep-six the filibuster. Then again, his party has no real power. For now.