Squad member Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) is going after the filibuster since the White House decided not to touch it during the filibuster debate on Friday and she’s weaponizing race to do it. She followed in the footsteps of Barack Obama and invoked Jim Crow laws in connection with the filibuster.
“It’s long past time to end the Jim Crow Filibuster,” Pressley stated on Twitter. Ending the filibuster has been a goal of Democrats forever and Pressley wants it gone.
The Senate is now split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris being the tie-breaking vote. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been fighting to get Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to rule out nuking the 60-vote hurdle to end debate on most legislation. But Schumer has steadfastly refused.
During the funeral service of the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Barack Obama infamously linked the filibuster to Jim Crow laws: “You want to honor John? Let’s honor him by revitalizing the law that he was willing to die for,” Obama said referring to the Voting Rights Act. “And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster – another Jim Crow relic – in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do.”
Democrat Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), another member of the far-left Squad, joined Pressley and blasted three “pillars upholding white supremacy” Friday: the filibuster, the Electoral College, and student loan debt.
The filibuster is a pillar upholding white supremacy. It's time to end it.
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) January 22, 2021
Student loan debt is a pillar upholding white supremacy. It’s time to cancel all of it.
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) January 22, 2021
Another Squad member, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) also chimed in on ending the filibuster.
Senate to-do list:
1. Abolish the filibuster and pass COVID-19 relief for our communities.
2. Convict Trump.
3. Legislate like Democrats control the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives. Because we do.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) January 23, 2021
The filibuster is actually not linked to the Jim Crow era. It is non-sequitur to tie the two together. In 1805, Vice President Aaron Burr, presiding over the Senate, removed what he thought at the time was redundant language from the Senate rule book and cut the “previous question motion” which would have allowed a majority of lawmakers to end debate and force a vote on a bill. Senators over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries tried to reinstate the previous question motion, but their opponents would kill it by filibuster. Which is an act of lengthy debate.
In 1917, the Senate enacted a “cloture” rule, blocking the power that a single senator or group of senators has from thwarting debate on their own. From then on, a new rule allowed two-thirds of senators to agree to cut off debate and bring a bill to the floor. That fraction was changed to three-fifths in 1975.
It’s long past time to end the Jim Crow Filibuster.
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 22, 2021
A few historians claim that the filibuster has been used to obstruct civil rights legislation in the past. In recent times, members of both political parties have tried to eliminate it.
Eliminating the filibuster can be done with a 50-plus-one majority if Senate Democrats decide to do so. That is what Democrats did, using a “nuclear option” for lower-court nominations during former President Obama’s time in office, and what Republicans did for Supreme Court nominations during President Trump’s term.
McConnell and Schumer are at odds over the filibuster. Currently, President Biden does not support nixing it.
“I’ve been heartened to hear my colleague say he wants the same rules from the 2000s to apply today. Because certainly 20 years ago there was no talk of tearing down long-standing minority rights on legislation,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday. “The legislative filibuster is a crucial part of the Senate. Leading Democrats like President Biden himself have long defended it.”
McConnell then accused Democrats of “liberally” using the filibuster to block GOP legislation during the past six years that Republicans controlled the Senate. Democrats did this in 2020 when Republicans brought up police reform legislation and coronavirus relief bills that Democrats did not think went far enough.
Many Democrats believe that having the threat of targeting the filibuster will be key to forcing compromise with uncooperative Republicans. They also believe it would show weakness to give into McConnell’s demand as he’s relegated to minority leader.
“Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader. We can get sh*t done around here and we ought to be focused on getting stuff done,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT). “If we don’t, the inmates are going to be running this ship.”
“It would be exactly the wrong way to begin,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CN). “We need to have the kind of position of strength that will enable us to get stuff done.”
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