Jun 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Progressive groups press Senate Democrats to abolish filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking during a press conference in New York City on June 3.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking during a press conference in New York City on June 3. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

More than 100 progressive groups called on Senate Democrats this week to abolish the filibuster after Senate Republicans used the legislative tactic to block the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The blockage, which the was the first legislative filibuster of the Biden presidency, did not change certain Senate Democrats' stances toward the procedural hurdle, namely moderates Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

Context: Retaining the filibuster may hinder President Biden's chances of enacting his agenda, which includes climate change, voting rights, tax and gun reform legislation.

  • Before the procedural vote in May, Manchin said he would not support abolishing the filibuster if Republicans blocked the creation of the commission, saying he is not "willing to destroy our government."
  • Manchin has said that doing away with the filibuster and allowing the chamber to invoke cloture by a simple majority would create "serious problems" and instead supports reforming the tactic to make it more painful for the obstructer.

What they're saying: "We have moved past hypotheticals and entered a perilous new moment for our democracy," the progressive groups, led by Fix Our Senate, said in Thursday's letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

  • "Senate Republicans’ decision to block legislation establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection is a shameful abdication of their duties to our country," they added.
  • "In the face of Republicans’ inability and unwillingness to defend our democracy, it is clearer than ever that the filibuster needs to be eliminated. We cannot allow the filibuster to stand in the way of progress or imperil the health of our democracy."
  • Signatories included March For Our Lives, Our Revolution, the Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement.

The big picture: Schumer has not ruled out getting rid of the filibuster to achieve his goals, instead opting for trying to find common ground with Senate Republicans.

Go deeper: McConnell says killing filibuster would create 'nuclear winter' in Senate

Go deeper