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January 12, 2022 – “For the Senate to preserve our democracy and protect the right to vote, and to be known again as the ‘world’s greatest deliberative body,’ the Senate filibuster rules must be revised,” Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer writes in the introduction to a new update to the Democracy 21 report: A Timeline Of The Senate Filibuster — And Why The Filibuster Rules Must Be Revised To Save Democracy And Restore The Senate.

Attacks “on the right to vote and the integrity of our elections have put our democracy at grave risk,” Wertheimer writes. “The need to revise the filibuster rules is of paramount importance.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced the Senate will consider changes to Senate rules as early as this week.

The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are essential voting rights measures that were blocked by multiple Republican filibusters in 2021.

These measures would override the state voter suppression laws triggered by Trump’s Big Lie, protect against partisan election administration officials rigging federal election results, and prevent future voter discrimination laws in selected states and local jurisdictions.

“The moment of truth is here,” Wertheimer says. “At stake is whether our democracy as we know it will be preserved.”

The Democracy 21 report details the history of the Senate filibuster: 

  • Its creation in 1806 – a “housekeeping” mistake by Vice President Aaron Burr;
  • Its prolific use to block civil rights legislation – from anti-lynching and anti-poll tax measures in the 19th and 20th centuries to voting rights legislation today;
  • Its weaponization for partisan purposes by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY);
  • How the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), the acknowledged master of the Senate rules, opposed eliminating the filibuster entirely, but believed that the filibuster rules should be changed when “circumstances change” and played a key role in revising the Senate filibuster rules three times in the 1970s; and
  • How the filibuster rules have been modified more than 160 times since 1969, including in December 2021 to allow an increase to the debt ceiling to pass by majority vote.

 The Democracy 21 Timeline Of The Senate Filibuster is online here.

Democracy 21 and the Democracy 21 Education Fund work to strengthen the integrity and fairness of our democracy and to increase the role of citizens in our political process. www.democracy21.org