Democrats Can Beat a GOP Filibuster Without Wrecking Senate Rules

This piece first appeared in Reason.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris want Congress to pass two voting rights bills presently stuck in the Senate. Biden and Harris blamed Republicans for preventing the Senate from debating the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. And they called on Democrats to change the Senate rules to overcome Republicans’ obstruction if necessary to pass these two bills.

In forceful remarks delivered at historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, Harris said Democrats should do whatever it takes to stop Republicans from “exploiting arcane rules” that allow senators to filibuster to block the Senate from debating voting rights legislation. Biden argued that Democrats have no choice but to change those rules to eliminate the filibuster if the Senate will safeguard Americans’ right to vote.

Notwithstanding the merits of their views on election policy, Biden and Harris are wrong to claim that Republicans are the culprit behind the Senate’s failure to debate voting rights legislation. And their denunciation of the Senate’s “arcane rules” leaves out that those same rules empower the Democrats to begin debate on voting rights legislation over Republican objections. The Senate’s existing rules and practices empower a majority to vote on a motion to proceed over a minority’s objections. In short, the rules aren’t the problem; Democrats are.

Read the full piece here.

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Topics: Legislative Procedure