Resolution to Eliminate the Filibuster

Resolution in Support of Eliminating the Senate Filibuster

WHEREAS The the authors of the United States Constitution intended legislation to be passed by simple majority vote, and the Constitution mandates supermajority votes in only a few specific cases; and

WHEREAS The Senate filibuster was created unintentionally in 1806 after Senators removed what they thought was redundant language in the Senate rules, and was not part of the design of the Senate; and

WHEREAS The use of the Senate filibuster was rare throughout much of the 19th century, and when employed it was generally used to delay and influence but not obstruct legislation, with most filibustered legislation eventually passing; and

WHEREAS Senator John Calhoun and Southern Senators began to use the Senate filibuster successfully to preserve slavery prior to the Civil War and then to block voting rights for Black citizens during Reconstruction; and

WHEREAS The Senate adopted the “cloture rule” in 1917 in the midst of a national security vote to allow a two-thirds vote to end a filibuster; and

WHEREAS While Senate filibuster was used rarely “from the 87 years between when Reconstruction ended until 1964, the only category of legislation against which the filibuster was employed to actively stop bills in their tracks was Civil Rights legislation ”, including 200 bills outlawing lynching , bills ending poll taxes and employment discrimination, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964; and

WHEREAS The Senate rules were changed in the 1970s to reduce the cloture vote to 60, to institute a “tracking system” and the “silent filibuster” that allows other legislation to proceed while a bill is being filibustered, and to allow a Senator to filibuster without even needing to be present; and

WHEREAS The use of the filibuster has skyrocketed since the 1970 and in recent years been used to block progressive legislation , including bills on worker rights, lobbying reform, voting rights and election reform, wage discrimination, a public option for healthcare, consumer protection, banking regulations, Social Security benefits, the DREAM Act, climate change legislation, and gun violence prevention in the wake of the Sandyhook mass shooting; and

WHEREAS The Senate filibuster rule has created a de facto supermajority requirement to pass any legislation ; and

WHEREAS The filibuster has for several decades allowed Republicans to set the legislative agenda even when not in control of the Senate and despite representing a minority of the population of the United States; and

WHEREAS The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced H.R. 1, The For the People Act , which would expand voting access , reduce the influence of big money in elections, and reverse the Republican Party’s assault on voting rights in many states; and

WHEREAS The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 5, The Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation; and

WHEREAS The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced H.R. 536, The New Way Forward Act , which would reform the process for enforcing the immigration laws of the United States; and

WHEREAS A national $15 minimum wage was a central campaign promise of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and many Congressional Democrats and is supported by a large majority of Americans; and

WHEREAS Discussions are underway regarding a New Civil Rights Act; and

WHEREAS The above legislation will likely be blocked by the requirement to achieve a 60-vote supermajority to end not just a filibuster but to overcome even just the threat of a filibuster despite Democrat control of the U.S. House, Senate, and Presidency; and

WHEREAS Abolishing the filibuster will benefit Democrats and a progressive legislativeagenda that will improve and strengthen the United States; and

WHEREAS Eliminating the filibuster will enable moderate Senators to “work across the aisle” and pass bills which have the support of a bipartisan majority; and

WHEREAS Failing to fulfill our campaign promises because of an arcane Senate rule is unacceptable to Democratic voters and constituency groups, and would further embolden the rise of the authoritarian right; and

WHEREAS More than 60 organizations and unions have joined in calling on the Senate to abolish the filibuster;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 31st District Democrats support the elimination of the Senate filibuster, including by using the so-called “nuclear option” 32 if necessary; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 31st District Democrats call on Senators Murray and Cantwell to make a public statement in support of ending the Senate filibuster, and to sponsor, support, and actively work to end the Senate filibuster in 2021 and pass the aforementioned legislation; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be delivered to Washington State Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

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ADOPTED by the 31st Legislative District Democrats at their March 24, 2021 meeting.

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