Action Alert: End the Filibuster NOW
The Issue: Typically, it takes 51 votes for a bill to be passed during a debate in the Senate. However, it only takes one Senator to threaten a filibuster to essentially kill a bill. Unlike a regular debate, it takes 60 votes to end a filibuster. Sixty votes are then required to pass a law rather than just the 51 majority.
With the even partisan split in the Senate, the filibuster’s use has increased rapidly in recent years. Although some argue that the filibuster is used to facilitate debate and to give a voice to the minority, the filibuster actually shuts down debate—and allows for the minority to dictate which bills should even make it to a Senate floor vote. It is urgent that the filibuster be abolished while Democrats still have the majority 50 votes (plus one) and can pass the legislation that they promised to voters.
Why it Matters: The filibuster was first introduced by southern segregationists in the early 1800s to prevent any anti-slavery legislation from becoming law and to protect the interests of pro-slavery plantation owners. Following abolition, it was used to preserve Jim Crow laws, halt early Civil Rights legislation, and block anti-lynching laws.
Today, it’s still being used to perpetuate and deepen inequality, to deny equal rights protections to women and men, to deny equal pay guarantees, to halt racial justice and police reform bills, to stop rampant voter suppression, and safeguard access for all to the ballot – in essence, to deny progressive and democracy strengthening initiatives that this country desperately needs.
The Status: The filibuster has to be eradicated now for Democrats to have any hope of passing legislation before the 2022 midterm elections. We need all 50 Democrats in the Senate to vote in favor of the elimination of the filibuster for it to be abolished, plus the vote from the vice president. Currently, of the 50 Democratic Senators, 19 are on board to eliminate the filibuster entirely, 15 are committed to changing it, 14 are open to changing it, and two are opposed to any reform. These last two Senators, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona are protecting their special interests who benefit most from the filibuster.
Reform is not enough. Congress must eliminate the filibuster if the Biden Administration is to accomplish any of its goals. The rights of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as the well-being of those affected by climate change depend on this.
What Can I Do? We must mobilize to bring an end to the filibuster. Call your Senators and urge them to support its elimination. If you reside in West Virginia and Arizona, call Senators Manchin and Sinema to urge them to voting with their fellow Democrats and put the well-being of their constituents over their special interests.
How Do I Do It? Every US Senator can be reached at the Capitol Switchboard at 202–224–3121. A directory of current Senators is available here: U.S. Senate: Senators. If they are in their home state, they can be contacted in their local offices. Check their websites for their contact information.
What Do I Say?
I am calling to urge Senator [NAME] to support eliminating the filibuster. With the current Democratic Senate majority, it is important to act now while progressive legislation can be adopted. If the filibuster remains, Republicans will continue to block any and all bills introduced by Democrats. All Democratic Senators must unite against the filibuster to get rid of this regressive and anti-democratic tactic. It is vital that Senator [NAME] pledge his/her support.
Spread the Word
Encourage others to take action by spreading the word on social media about the danger of the filibuster. Below are examples of social media posts that can help:
- The filibuster is threatening our rights by preventing the passing of essential legislation to protect women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. We must urge Congress to #EndtheFilibuster now.
- The filibuster is unconstitutional and is a product of the US’ racist history. It is time we do away with this harmful practice!
- We cannot let the filibuster continue to stand in the way of progress! #EndtheFilibusterNOW
- @[Senator handle] Please support the elimination of the filibuster to protect the rights of all of your constituents.