Fighting for the Filibuster
Legislative battles sometimes produce unlikely victims. After clashing with Republicans for months, Democrats appear poised to win a major partisan victory on health care.
Yet while triumph could be imminent, some liberal lawmakers and pundits want another scalp. Get rid of the Senate filibuster, they say. It’s an outmoded procedure that allows a minority of 41 votes to stop legislation. Like the spittoon and the handlebar mustache, it’s just another anachronistic piece of congressional history. These “reformers” say the Senate should operate more like the House, where a simple majority regularly does whatever it pleases.
But here’s an inconvenient truth. The Senate wasn’t designed to operate like a smaller version of the House. And changing the filibuster rules would be a major mistake, not only resulting in more ideologically extreme legislation, but also changing the very purpose of the upper body in our constitutional system.