Weekly News Highlights: 12/7/2020 – 12/13/2020
Tom Udall makes the case for killing the filibuster to fix a broken Senate.
A filibuster is a tactic used in the U.S Senate in which a senator speaks for an indefinite amount of time, delaying or blocking a vote on a bill. Filibustering is typically used by minorities in the Senate. The only way to stop a filibuster is to invoke cloture, which requires a three-fifths majority vote to get passed. Thus, a minority party that has over 40 senators can prevent a vote on a bill that they do not support, even if the majority of the Senate does support it.
This article describes Tom Udall, a retiring Democratic senator who, in his farewell speech, "urged his colleagues on Tuesday to kill the legislative filibuster that he said had helped turn the Senate into a 'graveyard for progress.'" He argues that the presence of the filibuster reveals that our nation values partisanship over the country's best interests. For the past few months, Congress has been deadlocked as a result of partisanship, and as a result only 1% of bills introduced have become laws.
Like many controversial tactics and establishments, the filibuster has its strengths and weaknesses. It allows minorities in the Senate to prevent the majority party from passing whatever bill they want. But at the same time, minority parties can abuse the power of filibustering, which results in an unproductive and inefficient Senate.