filibuster reform

Abolishing Filibuster May Be Job One for a Democratic Senate

Harry Reid wants Senate Democrats to finish the job of filibuster reform he started in 2013. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

If Democrats win the White House and take control of the U.S. Senate this year, there will be plenty of debate about legislative priorities for the Biden administration and its congressional allies. But if an influential group of progressives has anything to say about it, the top priority will be defanging Mitch McConnell by abolishing the legislative filibuster, as NBC News reports:

Democratic insiders are assembling a coalition behind the scenes to wage an all-out war on the Senate filibuster in bullish anticipation of sweeping the 2020 election and passing an ambitious progressive agenda. Veteran party operatives, activist groups and supportive senators are coordinating message and strategy to dial up the pressure to quickly end the 60-vote threshold early next year, fearing that preservation of the rule will enable Republicans to kill Joe Biden’s legislative agenda in its cradle.

Among the leaders of this effort is the ever-wily former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, who nuked the filibuster for executive and judicial nominees back in 2013. And an impressive collection of activist groups is backing and staffing it:

They’re consolidating that effort under a new coalition called Fix Our Senate and run by Eli Zupnick, a former communications director for No. 3 Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Members include liberal groups like Indivisible, Communications Workers of America, Working Families Party, Brady Campaign, Demand Justice, Data For Progress, Evergreen Action, Stand Up America, and Common Cause.

And their strategy is pretty simple: a real blitzkrieg to get this done as a prelude to other progressive legislative initiatives that are important to varying groups of Democratic senators and advocacy groups, all of whom would benefit from the ability to pass bills with simple majorities:

“Our goal is to lift the filibuster higher on progressives’ agendas in advance of November and help them make it clear to a future President Biden and Senate leadership that they expect and demand speedy Senate rules reform in 2021 and will not accept more gridlock, delays, and excuses,” Zupnick said. “We are going to be very focused on the need for speedy action.”

Zupnick said Fix Our Senate has hired “a war room” of research, communications and digital operatives with the mission of weakening support for the filibuster.

Amid signs that support for the ancient dilatory tactic (or at least its modern incarnation as a routine super-majority requirement for passing legislation) is waning among Democrats, Fix Our Senate hopes to break down the final wall of resistance from senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — not to mention that former six-term senator who may come to reside in the White House, Joe Biden.

Abolishing Filibuster May Be Job One for a Democratic Senate