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Fate of the filibuster

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 5:13 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The filibuster has long been used in the U.S. Senate as a way to delay or prevent a vote on a bill or amendment, usually helping give the minority more of a voice.

Through the filibuster a Senator will hold the floor for hours, stalling a vote.

Talks of getting rid of or reforming the filibuster has dominated recent headlines, leading to President Joe Biden himself addressing the matter.

In his first formal press conference, President Joe Biden, a former U.S. Senator himself, expressed concerns over the current Senate procedures of the filibuster.

“It’s being abused in a gigantic way. And for example, it used to be you have to stand there and talk and talk and talk and talk until you collapsed and guess what? People got tired of talking and tired of collapsing,” said Biden.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., explained that the reform would wipe out minority power.

“They want to move through legislation with only 50 votes, and that’s a bad idea because it doesn’t build the consensus you need, and that’s the whole idea with the Senate. The minority does have a voice and it forces the legislation to be more bi-partisan,” said Hoeven.

Prominent Democratic leaders, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has spoken for filibusters in the past now speaking out against it.

“I really have to hand it to Leader McConnell. He’s done a great job highlighting not the ancient hypocrisy but the very recent hypocrisy from people like Chuck Schumer and the other Senate leadership that have talked out of both sides of their mouths in recent years,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

By getting rid of or reforming the procedure, it could set a precedent and wipe out the filibuster all together.

“It’s probably not going to come back because once the Republicans gain the majority again, and they will, as it goes back forth, at that point the majority is not going say, ‘Let’s put the filibuster back in place, let’s give the minority that power again,’” said Kjersten Nelson, a political science professor at North Dakota State University.

While the filibuster is not a constitutional act, it has been rooted in the senate since the 18th Century as a traditional procedure.

President Biden later agreed with former President Barack Obama’s take that the filibuster was, “a relic of the Jim Crow era.”

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