by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democrats will need to curtail the Senate filibuster if they aim to pass voting legislation and other priorities next, and the party’s top leaders are encouraging them to do just that.
But the effort is far from guaranteed to prevail, with President Joe Biden’s role still in doubt, and if it succeeds, may come back to bite the party just a year or two down the road.
“If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making the exception of voting rights for the filibuster,” Biden recently told ABC News, adding that he doesn’t think the Senate will “have to go that far.”
Vice President Kamala Harris added in a weekend interview with CBS that the United States risks losing its status as a role model for democracy without new federal elections laws.
“Right now, we’re about to take ourselves off the map as a role model if we let people destroy one of the most important pillars of a democracy, which is free and fair elections,” she said.
The party has introduced two bills, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act, which Democrats say are needed to expand voting rights, rein in gerrymandering, and create new ethics roles for federal officeholders.
With all 50 Senate Republicans opposed to the bills, viewing them as a federal takeover of elections that would also undermine security, Democrats will need to alter a 215-year-old procedure to get them to the president’s desk.
The filibuster requires 60 votes to end debate on most bills, preventing legislation from being passed by a simple majority. Thus, some Democrats are now calling for changing or eliminating the filibuster in order to get laws passed with just 51 votes.