Explaining The Filibuster And Why The Senate Might Eliminate It

With Democrats now holding the Senate majority, talk of eliminating the filibuster has ramped up. So what is a filibuster and why is the issue coming up now? ”

A filibuster is really extended debate, extended amending activity, whatever it takes to block the majority from going to a vote on whatever it is they’re pursuing,” said Sarah Binder, a senior fellow for governance studies at the Brookings Institution and a professor of political science at George Washington University.

Eliminating the filibuster would make it much easier for Democrats to pass President Biden’s biggest policy proposals. That’s because current Senate rules require 60 votes to invoke what’s known as “cloture” — a procedural step that puts a limit on debate for whatever the chamber is considering. The Democrats eliminated the filibuster for lower court judicial nominees in 2013, and Republicans made the same move for Supreme Court nominees in 2017.

Eliminating the filibuster may sound like an extreme move because we’re used to that rule being in place. But it wasn’t always that way.

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