Paul alluded to this in the post below but it’s a big deal:
Obama just called for eliminating the filibuster if “that’s what it takes” to pass new voting rights laws, calling it “a Jim Crow relic”— Grace Panetta (@grace_panetta) July 30, 2020
I’ve already gone through the reasons to expect the filibuster to be eliminated (whether de facto or de jure) the next time Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress:
- It no longer empowers moderates, who have stuff they want to pass.
- The Democratic caucus, as now reflected by the most influential figure in the party, is less intuitionally conservative than it was in 2009.
- Claims that Democrats Will Never Fight For Anything run into the obvious problem that they’ve already acted to eliminated the filibuster for all executive and most judicial appointments (and, really, all, since there filibuster for Supreme Court nominees had no chance of surviving once the trigger was pulled.)
And we now know how the filibuster will die. The first major legislative initiative if the election goes as polls currently indicate in 2021 will probably be a voting rights act named after John Lewis; if not, it will be a COVID-19 relief bill. Neither of these bills can be written in a way to get any Republican support with a Democrat in the White House, they will be broadly popular, and just letting them die is not an option substantively or politically. They will both pass on a straight party-line (plus maybe the barely-Republican Murkowski) Senate vote, and the filibuster will be dead.
I’d like to expand on another point I made this time. A point that is too often neglected when discussing the decision of the Dems not to eliminate the filibuster is that McConnell wasn’t able to practice total obstruction in 2009-10. Dems were able to pass the ACA during their brief 60 vote window (and while the ACA probably would have been a little better without the filibuster, it wouldn’t have been that much better; there was really very little difference between the 50th and 60th most liberal senators in 2009, and I don’t think there was ever 50 votes for even the small potatoes public option in the House bill.) They were also able to get enough Republican votes to pass ARRA, Dodd-Frank, and the Ledbetter Act. The major initiatives that failed — the climate bill and card check — almost certainly didn’t have 50 Senate votes. But 2021 could not play out this way — if Dems regain the Senate it means Collins will have lost, and that leaves Murkowsi as the last moderatish Republican senator standing. 60 votes are not going to be available for anything important. Just as they did to eliminate the blockade of the D.C. circuit, Dems will destroy the filibuster, and using a restored Voting Rights Act to do it would be, as Obama suggests, the best possible tribute to John Lewis.
…Bernie also on board: