President Joe Biden’s main theme on the campaign trail was centered around unity and how he intends to be a leader for all Americans, but it is evident that this promise has been pushed to the sidelines with each passing day. The Democratic Party –– with a 50-50 party split Senate and Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote –– intends to make use of its control over the White House and Congress to push forward a rather progressive agenda.
On paper, it would seem as though the stars have aligned in its favor; however, there is one major obstacle that stands in the way of its partisan agenda: the filibuster. This Senate procedure is the last line of defense for the Republican Party to have significant input in future legislation, and almost all Democrats are on board with eliminating this process. Taking such action would not only contradict the Biden Administration’s call for unity, which he clearly conveyed in his Inaugural Address, but would also be a reckless move that would disregard the opinions of millions of Americans and further the division in the nation.
The filibuster is a more than 200 hundred-year-old procedure that allows any Senator to stall or block a law from being ratified by extending debate on the issue with a 60-vote threshold needed to bypass the process.
This procedure essentially serves as a check to a total partisan takeover from either party and allows for the minority party to have a meaningful say in the legislative process. Its ultimate goal is for both parties to come to a compromise on issues in a way that demonstrates true bipartisanship. However, this valuable procedure, regardless of party affiliation, is at risk of total elimination by Democrats who are blinded by its long-term effects.
As of now, Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are the only people preventing the removal of the filibuster, as they both have taken a firm stance against ridding the procedure. Despite immense pressure not only from their Democratic colleagues but also many mainstream media networks, both have remained committed to allowing for the minority party to have a say in legislation, as they see the value of compromise as well as the ramifications of this action.
Without the filibuster, the minority party would essentially be at the mercy of the majority party in the Senate with no power to stop or have input in legislation. On top of this, this step would lead to bitterness, as millions of people and their ideals would be rendered irrelevant as the majority party is free to push almost any policy with a simple majority. An example of the future that lies ahead is the recent $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill which was pushed with absolutely no Republican support or meaningful attempt at the sort through budget reconciliation.
Republicans raised valid concerns that are worth at least some attention, such as potential massive inflation and overall wasteful spending that would plunge the country in even greater debt, but to no avail. While Democrats see this as the way to move forward, they also do not realize that this could easily come back to haunt them. as the ever-increasing possibility of the Republicans regaining control of the Senate would immediately turn the tables on them.
This issue is one that will likely be at the forefront for the foreseeable future, as during his first press conference this past Thursday, President Biden had agreed that the filibuster was “a relic of the Jim Crow era,” and it is likely that he will also aim to rid the Senate of it to further his own policies. This is the case even though he had been a passionate defender of the filibuster during his time as a senator as in 2005. He gave a speech saying, “At its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill –– it’s about compromise and moderation.” But now, the filibuster is deemed as racist by him as well as many members of his party. Was it considered racist back when Democrats filibustered South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s (the only African American GOP senator) police reform bill last year? This blatant hypocrisy only serves to further highlight how desperate the Democrats are to gain the power needed to cram their legislation into law.
At the end of the day, this issue is one that will inevitably affect both parties as well as the American public in negative ways. Putting an end to filibuster would only serve to divide the country further following last year’s chaotic election, and it would lead to the opposite of what President Biden had envisioned for his presidency. For now, we can only hope that senators Manchin and Sinema will not succumb to the enormous pressure of their party and the media and stay firm in preserving a sense of democratic debate and compromise.
The world should learn from the British and eschew default precaution in favor of rigorous cost-benefit analysis both through the end of the pandemic and beyond.