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It’s Time to Nuke the Filibuster

Editor, News-Register:

The United States Senate has a so-called rule known as the “filibuster.” (The filibuster is not mentioned anywhere in the constitution.)

Usually when legislation is brought up on the Senate floor the vote of a simple majority, i.e., 51 votes of the full Senate of 100 is all that is required to enact the legislation.

However, under present Senate rules, the filibuster can be used to require 60 member votes of the full 100 Senators for passage of legislation. By using the filibuster, which can be invoked by a single member, is a method where as few as 41 Senators can prolong delay in ever getting legislation to achieve the 60 super majority vote needed for passage of a bill.

In short, a single vote filibuster can kill legislation by preventing a vote on the bill.

By invoking what is called the “nuclear option,” (a process where a simple majority vote of 51 votes can eliminate the filibuster rule) the Democrats can eliminate the filibuster rule.

I am calling on the Senate Democratic majority to use their current 50 votes plus Vice President Harris (tie breaker) vote to use the nuclear option and delete the filibuster rule forever.

We must eliminate the filibuster (that delayed civil rights legislation for decades) in order to enact a compelling, comprehensive agenda of dire needed legislation–not a socialist agenda, nor a Biden agenda, but an American agenda for now and the future.

The American agenda includes, but is not limited to:

Climate change: Enactment of legislation to defeat this grave threat to humanity by the demands of science, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution.

January 6 insurrection investigation: The facts of the insurrection must come out in a way acceptable to the American people to prevent another attack on our democracy. A 10-member bi-partisan commission would probe what led to the violent attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

Voting rights: The Senate must pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in order to strengthen our ethics and conflict-of-interest laws, stop unaccountable secret and special interest money from corrupting our politics, end partisan gerrymandering and protect voting rights and election security.

Gun Control: Initially the Senate must pass the House passed bill that require background checks to those purchasing weapons over the internet and at gun shows, and would give authorities 10 business days for federal background checks to be completed before a gun sale can be licensed. Next, pistol, rifle, and multi-round magazines for shotguns must be outlawed for sale.

Police reform: The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act is required to reform police conduct by banning carotid and choke holds, prohibiting religious and racial profiling, and creating a national standard of operation for police departments.

Minimum wage: It is absolutely essential that the Federal minimum wage be raised to $15/hour to eliminate poverty in America.

Racial Equity: We must pass legislation that puts racial equity at the center of the agenda with a whole of government approach to embed racial justice across Federal agencies, policies, and programs.

Economy: We have to take bold steps to address the inequities in our economy by initially adopting the $1.7 trillion proposed infrastructure program, and providing relief to those who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. We must build our economy back better from the pandemic and create millions of jobs by strengthening small businesses and investing in the jobs of the future.

Health Care: We must build on the Affordable Care Act to meet the health care needs created by the pandemic, reduce health care costs, and make our health care system less complex to navigate.

Immigration: Legislation must be passed this year to create a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers,” farm workers and those granted temporary protected status for humanitarian reasons, and to reform our long-broken and chaotic immigration system.

Negotiations in Congress over almost all of the American agenda are facing solid GOP opposition, dimming Democrat’s hopes that they might be able to overcome the partisan gridlock that has come to define Republicans. The Republicans just won’t be persuaded to be bi-partisan.

The Democrats must — on their own — nuke the filibuster and adopt the American agenda for a more just and equitable society.

Bill Bryant

St. Clairsville

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