Resolution in Support of Eliminating the Senate Filibuster

      1024 1024 34th Democrats

      Adopted by the general membership at the July 14, 2021 membership meeting.


      Resolution in Support of Eliminating the Senate Filibuster

      WHEREAS The the authors of the United States Constitution intended legislation to be passed by simple majority vote1, and the Constitution mandates supermajority votes in only a few specific cases;2 and 

      WHEREAS The Senate filibuster was created unintentionally in 1806 after Senators removed what they thought was redundant language in the Senate rules, and was not part of the design of the Senate;3 and

      WHEREAS The use of the Senate filibuster was rare throughout much of the 19th century, and when employed it was generally used to delay and influence but not obstruct legislation, with most filibustered legislation eventually passing;4 and

      WHEREAS Senator John Calhoun and Southern Senators began to use the Senate filibuster successfully to preserve slavery prior to the Civil War5 and then to block voting rights for Black citizens during Reconstruction;6 and

      WHEREAS The Senate adopted the “cloture rule” in 1917 in the midst of a national security vote to allow a two-thirds vote to end a filibuster;7 and

      WHEREAS While Senate filibuster was used rarely8 “from the 87 years between when Reconstruction ended until 1964, the only category of legislation against which the filibuster was employed to actively stop bills in their tracks was Civil Rights legislation”,9 including 200 bills outlawing lynching,10 bills ending poll taxes and employment discrimination, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964;11 and

      WHEREAS The Senate rules were changed in the 1970s to reduce the cloture vote to 60, to institute a “tracking system” and the “silent filibuster” that allows other legislation to proceed while a bill is being filibustered, and to allow a Senator to filibuster without even needing to be present;12 and 

      WHEREAS The use of the filibuster has skyrocketed since the 1970 and in recent years been used to block progressive legislation, including bills on worker rights, lobbying reform, voting rights and election reform, wage discrimination, a public option for healthcare, consumer protection, banking regulations, Social Security benefits, the DREAM Act, climate change legislation, and gun violence prevention in the wake of the Sandyhook mass shooting;13 and

      WHEREAS The Senate filibuster rule has created a de facto supermajority requirement to pass any legislation;14 and

      WHEREAS The filibuster has for several decades allowed Republicans to set the legislative agenda even when not in control of the Senate and despite representing a minority of the population of the United States;15 and

      WHEREAS The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced H.R. 1, The For the People Act,16 which would expand voting access, reduce the influence of big money in elections, and reverse the Republican Party’s assault on voting rights in many states;17 and

      WHEREAS The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 5, The Equality Act,18 which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation;19 and

      WHEREAS The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced H.R. 536, The New Way Forward Act,20 which would reform the process for enforcing the immigration laws of the United States;21 and

      WHEREAS A national $15 minimum wage was a central campaign promise of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and many Congressional Democrats and is supported by a large majority of Americans;22 and

      WHEREAS Discussions are underway regarding a New Civil Rights Act;23 and

      WHEREAS The 43rd District Democrats support24 Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood;25 and

      WHEREAS The above legislation will likely be blocked by the requirement to achieve a 60-vote supermajority to end not just a filibuster but to overcome even just the threat of a filibuster26 despite Democrat control of the U.S. House, Senate, and Presidency; and

      WHEREAS Abolishing the filibuster will benefit Democrats and a progressive legislative agenda that will improve and strengthen the United States;27and

      WHEREAS Eliminating the filibuster will enable moderate Senators to “work across the aisle” and pass bills which have the support of a bipartisan majority;28 and

      WHEREAS Failing to fulfill our campaign promises because of an arcane Senate rule is unacceptable to Democratic voters and constituency groups, and would further embolden the rise of the authoritarian right;29 and

      WHEREAS More than 60 organizations and unions30 have joined in calling on the Senate to abolish the filibuster;31

      THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 43rd District Democrats support the elimination of the Senate filibuster, including by using the so-called “nuclear option”32 if necessary; and,

      BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 43rd District Democrats call on Senators Murray and Cantwell to make a public statement in support of ending the Senate filibuster, and to sponsor, support, and actively work to end the Senate filibuster in 2021 and pass the aforementioned legislation; and, 

      BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be submitted to Washington State Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Washington State Representative Pramila Jayapal, each of the Legislative District Democrats organizations of Washington State, and members of the media.

      Notes

      1. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/231040419.pdf 
      2. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/full-text  and https://www.thoughtco.com/the-supermajority-vote-in-us-government-3322045 
      3. https://www.brookings.edu/testimonies/the-history-of-the-filibuster/ 
      4. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/case-against-filibuster 
      5. https://www.npr.org/2021/01/12/956018064/the-racist-history-of-the-senate-filibuster 
      6. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/case-against-filibuster 
      7. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/origins-of-filibuster-united-states-senate 
      8. https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/what-is-the-senate-filibuster-and-what-would-it-take-to-eliminate-it/ 
      9. https://www.npr.org/2021/01/12/956018064/the-racist-history-of-the-senate-filibuster 
      10. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/senate-filibuster-monument-white-supremacy/613579/ 
      11. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/reports/2019/12/05/478199/impact-filibuster-federal-policymaking/ and also https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/senate-filibuster-monument-white-supremacy/613579/
      12. http://www.columbia.edu/~gjw10/rules_committee_statement_final.pdf 
      13. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/reports/2019/12/05/478199/impact-filibuster-federal-policymaking/ 
      14. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/all-the-lies-they-told-us-about-the-filibuster.html 
      15. https://www.latimes.com/politics/newsletter/2021-02-26/filibuster-threat-shapes-democrats-agenda-essential-politics 
      16. https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1/text 
      17. https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a35296946/hr1-for-the-people-bill-reform-money-in-politics/ 
      18. https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5/text 
      19. https://thehill.com/homenews/house/540558-house-passes-sweeping-protections-for-lgbtq-people  
      20. https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/536/text 
      21. https://www.injusticewatch.org/news/immigration/2021/prison-deportation-pipeline-chuy-garcia-new-way-forward-act/ and https://www.aclu.org/news/immigrants-rights/it-is-time-for-a-new-way-forward/
      22. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/minimum-wage-white-house-low-wage-workers-1134878/ 
      23. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/01/18/opinion/biden-must-champion-new-civil-rights-act/ 
      24. https://www.43rddemocrats.org/s/2018-Final-Platform-1.pdf  
      25. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/20/puerto-rico-washington-dc-statehood-politics  
      26. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/origins-of-filibuster-united-states-senate 
      27. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/all-the-lies-they-told-us-about-the-filibuster.html 
      28. https://theweek.com/articles/963069/how-ending-filibuster-could-actually-foster-bipartisanship 
      29. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/21/opinion/biden-inauguration-democrats.html 
      30. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/02/05/60-groups-and-unions-senate-democrats-end-harmful-gridlock-and-dysfunction 
      31. https://www.fixoursenate.org/press/full-page-new-york-times-ad-calls-on-senators-to-eliminate-the-filibuster-end-mcconnells-ability-to-continue-gridlock-and-dysfunction-from-minority 
      32. https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/what-is-the-senate-filibuster-and-what-would-it-take-to-eliminate-it/ 

      Submitted by Camille Gix, Policy & Advocacy Committee Chair, 43rd LD Democrats, and Paul Chapman, 43rd LD Democrats member and PCO, for consideration by the 43rd Legislative District Democrats at their March 16, 2021 meeting.