Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are feuding over the legislative filibuster, as the now-minority GOP hopes to preserve the measure for the sake of accountability against the Biden administration’s agenda. The filibuster requires a 60-vote threshold for legislation to pass, as the upper chamber sits split between Republicans and Democrats; Vice President Kamala Harris will act as the tie-breaking vote.
A few Democrats in the Senate caucus favor abolishing the filibuster as an avenue to fast-track legislation, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that “nothing is off the table” if Democrats were to take power. The now-majority party was not always in favor of abolishing the filibuster, though. In 2017, a bipartisan group of senators urged both Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer to preserve the measure. Led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE), 61 lawmakers signed onto the letter to leadership of both parties, as Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) pointed out on Wednesday.
.@ChrisCoons wrote a letter with @SenatorCollins, joined by 25 Democratic senators, to oppose changes to the filibuster. Thank you for your commitment to bipartisanship! Positive sign coming from @JoeBiden’s closest ally in Senate. https://t.co/TbBwiqkr6s— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 21, 2021
At the time, senators from both parties urged leadership to “recognize the rights of” the minority party, in order to foster bipartisanship and encourage debate.
"We are mindful of the unique role the Senate plays in the legislative process, and we are steadfastly committed to ensuring that this great American institution continues to serve as the world’s greatest deliberative body," the group of Senators wrote in 2017. "Therefore, we are asking you to join us in opposing any effort to curtail the existing rights and prerogatives of Senators to engage in full, robust, and extended debate as we consider legislation before this body in the future."
Schumer has not yet given a clear stance on eliminating the legislative filibuster, while McConnell hopes to keep the measure intact.