Past racists in Senate filibuster fuel debate for its end

Washington (AP) — Senate once ambiguous Filibuster It is under new scrutiny, not only because of the enormous force it gives to a single senator to stop President Joe Biden’s agenda, but also as a tool that has historically been used for racism. ..

Senators and supporters of the change in practice say that the procedure that enables endless discussions is not the founder’s intention, but a time-out relic of Jim Crow. In the clearest example, they point to groundbreaking filibusters, including Strom Thurmond’s 24-hour speech on the Civil Rights Act of 1957, as a method that has been used to stop change. ..

Future discussions are no longer academic and can influence Biden’s agenda in the 50-50 Senate.Carrying the repercussions of that early civil rights era, the Senate is ready to consider Drastic elections and voting rights A bill approved by the Democratic Party of the House of Representatives, but hitting a filibuster in the Senate Republican Party.

In a letter on Friday, nearly 150 groups called on the Senate to: Eliminate filibusterAfter passing, saying that the problem will take on new urgency Georgia’s more restrictive new election law, This may be revoked by the “For the People” law pending before Congress.

“Filibuster has a long history of being used to thwart voting rights, civil rights, and democracy protection bills,” focuses on Fix our Senate and gun control, climate change, immigration, and other issues. A list of the major progressive and advocacy groups that have been hit is stated. ..

“Senators will soon face choices. They will protect our democracy, pass people’s law, or protect filibusters. They are outdated and abused, worthy of being thrown into the trash can of history. It is “Jim Crow Relics”. “

As Biden’s priorities tick, pressure is being placed on Senate leader Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Party. With a narrow Senate and Democrats making up the majority in the House of Representatives, it’s clear that Republicans can easily block the bill as it passes parliament.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell recently declared “fake history” to suggest a racial component to the practice of filibuster.

In a Senate speech, McConnell recalled when filibusters were used by both parties, including last year when Democrats were a minority and used it to thwart other bills. “It’s not a racist relic,” McConnell said.

Filibuster practices, which were established almost by accident in a way that allowed unlimited discussion, were scattered throughout the history of early parliament, but entered the glossary on the eve of the Civil War. By the early 20th century, it had been used to thwart lynching bills, but in recent years it has become more widely used and has been sharpened as a procedural weapon to stop any action in the Senate.

Overcoming filibuster requires 60 votes, but some Democratic senators have reduced the threshold to 51, as was done to allow approval of executive and judicial candidates. I am proposing to lower it. Senators are the majority of the session because, under the Constitution, Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the same number of votes.

When Republicans were the majority, McConnell himself changed the practice of filibuster, manipulating the Senate to lower the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court candidates to 51, and Republicans opposed Democratic opposition. Allowed the establishment of three of Donald Trump’s High Court judicial candidates. ..

House majority Whip James Clyburn, a top-ranked black member of Congress, recently told Senators if he used filibuster to stop actions to raise minimum wages and other democratic priorities. He warned that it wouldn’t be quiet. “It’s not just about succumbing to these mysterious ways of denying progress,” said a South Carolina Democrat, listening to Thurmond’s speech.

However, all Democrats must agree to change the rules, Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va. Some centrists, including, are not participating.

“There is no situation in which I vote to eliminate or undermine filibuster,” he wrote in a recent editorial.

Manchin is getting as much attention as any other senator as the White House works on Congress.

Biden spoke with him several times, and he was also called by other senior officials, including White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

Biden’s adviser has long known that he has expressed resistance to overhauling filibuster. And it’s not just Manchin — as many as 10 Democratic senators have been wary of changing filibuster practices.

According to the adviser, the president and White House aides also spoke with Senator Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and Senator Chris Coons (Delaware), among others.

The administration’s proposal to all senators, including Manchin, calls for drastic action, including the need to uphold voting rights in the face of laws they believe can be considered racists. Assembled that moment.

Harvard Law professor Michael Klarman said filibuster itself may be a racist, but it has been used that way in the past and present.

“There is nothing partisan about saying that filibuster was used primarily for racist reasons, I think everyone agrees that it is true,” he said. It was.

The election bill that comes before the Senate will be a test case. A radical federal package, already approved by the House of Representatives as HR1, expands voting access by allowing early voting by universal registration, mail and other options, revoking some of Georgia’s new legislation. I will.

The Democrats will eventually submit it for voting, testing the Republicans’ willingness to oppose it.

At the same time, Schumer is another process, the so-called Budget adjustment, Bypassing Republican opposition, provides a tool for approving specific budget proposals with a 51-vote threshold.

Democrats use Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 bailout package settlement process in the face of a unified Republican no-vote and use it again to advance his $ 2.3 trillion Was done Infrastructure package e or other priorities.

Since the settlement revolves around budget issues, it is not clear whether election bills or other legislation such as gun control or immigration could be considered in the process.

A Democrat, Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, helped achieve majority control of the party in the January elections, but has recently been ready to use all options to advance the election bill. I showed that I was there.

“I will use my leverage and the state’s leverage as a majority maker with an endangered election future to demand that we deal with voting rights,” he said in the Associated Press. Told to. Quickly. “


Associated Press writer Jonathan Remia contributed to this report.