It’s Time to Fix the Senate

For the last ten years or more we have had to endure a seriously dysfunctional Senate where bills supported by the majority of Americans have been turned away without even a vote. All it takes is for one senator to say he plans to filibuster a bill, and then it requires a super-majority of 60 votes to bring it to the floor. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has been able to stop virtually any bill from passing, even if it enjoys huge support around the country. Bills to close corporate tax loopholes, expose super-rich donations, expand social security benefits, protect immigrants, reduce wage disparity, stop voter suppression, and prevent gerrymandering, have all been blocked by Republican filibusters.

With a dysfunctional Senate we can not address critical needs in this country to effectively address climate change, reform our immigration policies, and provide equal rights for all citizens. We must fix the Senate.

It starts by changing the filibuster rules to enable a majority of senators to pass much needed legislation. The minority has a right to raise concerns and suggest amendments to proposed legislation. It does not have the right to prevent discussion on the Senate floor. The filibuster rules can be changed by a simple majority vote. Senate leaders need to do that now to pass two critically important voting rights bills — the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This simple rule change can help save our democracy and our country.

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Fred Van Deusen

Computer Scientist, Researcher, Systems Thinker and Leader of Reclaim Our Democracy group: reclaimourdemocracy.org