Filibuster Fragments Biden’s Latest Agenda
So what is a filibuster, and why does Biden want it to cease in the Senate? According to Senate.gov, a filibuster is “a loosely defined term for action designed to prolong debate and delay or prevent a vote on a bill, resolution, amendment, or other debatable question.” To end a filibuster, there must be a three-fifths majority, a process known as “cloture.” The filibuster has significance in the Senate because it has the ability to prevent the implementation of legislation that passes in the House of Representatives.
Biden’s latest agenda includes passing new components pertinent to voting rights. In recent years, House democrats proposed the “For the People Act,” which emphasizes the counting of absentee ballots, requires states to send absentee ballots in the mail to all eligible voters, provides funding for increased election infrastructure and requires presidential candidates to release their tax returns (along with more stipulations). While the legislation passed in the House, the Senate did not pass the “For the People Act,” as the filibuster allowed the opposition to postpone its enactment.
Other acts that Biden and the democratic party support include the “Freedom to Vote Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.” However, these bills are deemed to fail in the Senate, as most Republican members do not agree with the Democratic members that there should be an overhaul and/or reform to the voting process nationwide. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell described the Freedom to Vote Act as an attempt by Democratic lawmakers to “have the federal government take over how elections are conducted all over America.”
Yet, Democratic lawmakers have vowed to continue their efforts, most notably Kamala Harris, who presides over the Senate as Vice President; “We’re not going to give up. We’ve never given up- those of us who have fought for the right of every American to express their voice through their vote. We’re going to continue to do the work.”
In closing, it can be argued that the tradition of the filibuster has reduced the Democrats’ chances of maintaining power in the House and Senate past the midterm elections of 2022, as their voting bill proposals have not been enticing to the opposition, and American voters will have trouble seeing this Congress as a success if their goals are not achieved. Perhaps the Democrats will compromise their voting acts even more, hoping to entice others in a bipartisan effort.
Five Thirty Eight: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-might-democrats-voting-rights-bill-entail/