As Democrats continue to unsuccessfully push for abolishing the filibuster, Axios is reporting that, privately, discussions are being had about how to get around that minority safeguard.

The last straw for Democrats seems to have been the ability of the GOP to block passage earlier this week of the “For The People Act,” the sweeping voting and election overhaul that would have essentially federalized election law.

The filibuster was also used to block the forming of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot.

And unfortunately for Democrats, it is those in their own ranks who are keeping the dangling carrot of total power at arms length for them.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have repeatedly stated that they will not vote to get rid of the filibuster.

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OK For Me But Not For Thee

Democrats seem to have a love/hate relationship with the filibuster over the years. The Washington Post reports that over the last year, some 45 Democrat Senators have called for the elimination of the filibuster.

But of those, 39 of them were all for the use of the filibuster when the GOP controlled the Senate. 

In 2017, just one day after Republicans removed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, more than two dozen Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to keep the filibuster in place.

Schumer even went so far as to call for building a “firewall” around the legislative filibuster.

At the time, Schumer made this impassioned plea, “Without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the Senate becomes a majoritarian institution like the House, much more subject to the winds of short-term electoral change. No senator would like to see this happen, so let’s find a way to further protect the 60-vote rule for legislation.”

Miraculously however, once he became Senate Majority Leader, Schumer had a change of heart, and declared in May, “everything’s on the table.”

But the Democrats have also discovered something much more sinister about the filibuster. It is a tool of Jim Crow!

But if the filibuster is such an evil thing, why did the Democrats use it against Republicans 327 times in 2020 alone?

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What To Do Now?

Because total control can be an elusive thing, the Democrats now find themselves in a bit of a quandary. Sen. Tim Kaine has realized that a GOP filibuster could happen with every bit of legislation that comes before the Senate.

Kaine said, “This will happen on minimum wage, it will happen on gun safety, it’s likely to happen on immigration reform, it could happen on the Equality Act.”

Kaine also said that the same scenario could play out until the 2022 midterm elections, or until the next presidential election. He continued, “I think after we contemplate the alternatives, just saying, ‘We have the majority but sorry we can’t do it’ — I just don’t think that’s going to be the answer.”

Currently, 19 Democrat Senators have called outright for the elimination of the filibuster, 15 have called for changing it, 14 are open to some sort of change, including Manchin, and just two, Sinema and Thomas Carper of Delaware are opposed to any filibuster changes.

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Options On The Table

There are several alternatives for Democrats to possibly “work around” the filibuster. One such suggestion has been the “talking filibuster,” which requires Senators to remain speaking on the Senate floor.

Another is changing the 60 vote threshold to 55. Sen. Kaine also said there is the possibility of what he calls “more creative uses” of the budget reconciliation process, in order to get more done with just 51 votes. 

President Joe Biden has in the past come out in favor of the talking filibuster.

 

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