While Senate Democrats mull whether or not they should make changes to the legislative filibuster if Republicans try to block President Joe Biden‘s agenda in the upper chamber, some moderate senators are voicing skepticism with the idea.
In the House, Democrats have a slim majority but only need a simple majority to pass legislation. And while they have a nominal majority in the Senate — the chamber is split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote — they would need Republicans to vote for legislation to clear the 60-vote threshold.
In order to eliminate that threshold, Democrats would need all 50 of their members and Harris to vote in favor of scrapping it. However, some moderate senators do not appear to be on board with that idea.
“In fact, whether I’m in the majority or the minority, I would always vote to reinstate the protections for the minority… It is the right thing for the country,” she added.
Sinema also said she would like to once again see presidential nominees require 67-votes to pass the Senate as opposed to just the 51-votes that are required now.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was asked if he would support making changes to the filibuster, he said, “If this filibuster has now become so common in the Senate that we can’t act — that we just sit their helpless — shame on us. Of course, we should consider a change in the rule under those circumstances.”
Sinema is not the only Democratic senator who has voiced opposition to eliminating the 60-vote threshold.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) told The New York Times in December, “I can assure you I will not vote to end the filibuster because that would break the Senate.”
“If you basically do away with the filibuster altogether for legislation, you won’t have the Senate. You’re a glorified House. And I will not do that,” he added.
However, Democrats may have a way to pass some of Biden’s agenda without touching the filibuster. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suggested Democrats could use budget reconciliation to pass another COVID-19 relief package, which would only require 51-votes and cannot be filibustered — however, that would only be applicable for certain bills.
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