Could The Senate Be Losing The Filibuster? And Should It?
The student loan debacle is just the latest example of GOP obstructionism, as Republicans filibustered a Democratic bill that would continue to keep rates low. Congress has become completely unable to pass law unless it has full GOP buy-in, as the party continues to rule by filibuster if all bills aren’t exactly the way they want them.
But should the filibuster be done away with all together? That’s a question that many disagree over, and that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is currently pondering.
Reid is considering offering to let the GOP vote first on their own version of the student loan bill, which would pay for the interest rate staying low by defunding preventative care in the Affordable Care Act. In exchange, the Republicans have to promise to not filibuster the Democrats’ version, which would pay for the low rate by closing a tax loophole on S-Corps.
But Reid doesn’t want to stop there. He’d like to look at reforming the filibuster all together. Politico reports:
An angry Harry Reid took to the floor Thursday and demanded changes to the Senate’s hallowed filibuster rules, siding with junior Democrats who have sought to substantially weaken the powerful delaying tactic.
It’s a risky move for the Senate majority leader, who could find himself in the minority in a matter of months and need the filibuster to block the GOP’s agenda. But Reid — who struck a “gentleman’s agreement” last year with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to preserve the filibuster from an effort by Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeff. Merkley (D-Ore.) to water it down — signaled he is now on board with their effort given the gridlock in the Senate.
“If there were ever a time when Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley were prophetic, it’s tonight,” Reid said on the floor. “These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t. They were right. The rest of us were wrong — or most of us, anyway. What a shame.”
Reid added: “If there were anything that ever needed changing in this body, it’s the filibuster rules, because it’s been abused, abused, abused.”
But is weakening the filibuster a good idea? Yes, there’s a great frustration over the fact that every piece of legislation needs to be supported by at least 60 percent of lawmakers in order to even get a vote. But on the other hand, do laws that are only supported by 51 senators really represent the will of the people, either? Especially when the senate is set up to disproportionately represent the country, where low population states like Nebraska and the Dakotas have as much representation as population rich states like California?
Should the filibuster be watered down, or is it a necessary part of democracy? Tell us in the comments.
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