A cadre of high-profile Democrats are assembling a coalition to kill the Senate filibuster should former Vice President Joe Biden win this November and the party take full control of Congress.
NBC News reported on Friday that a new group called Fix our Senate was in the early stages of getting up and running. The organization will help coordinate messaging for groups, activists, and senators supporting the abolition of the filibuster, a Senate rule requiring a three-fifths supermajority—usually 60 votes—to end debate on legislation. Fix our Senate will be run by Eli Zupnick, a former top aide to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
“Our goal is to lift the filibuster higher on progressives’ agendas … [and] make it clear to a future President Biden and Senate leadership that they expect and demand speedy Senate rules reform in 2021 and will not accept more gridlock, delays, and excuses,” Zupnick told the outlet.
The coalition has already signed up a bevy of progressive groups as its founding members, including the Communications Workers of America union, Data for Progress, and Indivisible, among others.
In order to form a cohesive narrative around the issue, the coalition has already begun building out a media “war room” for research and communications strategy.
The group’s creation comes as Biden has adopted a wait-and-see approach to eliminating the filibuster, after long opposing the tactic. In July, the former vice president told reporters he was open to abolition, but a final determination would be made when it became clear how Republicans would act in the post-Trump era.
“I think it’s gonna depend on how obstreperous [Republicans] become,” the former vice president said at the time, clarifying that he was not necessarily expressing support in one direction or the other. “But I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.”
Even before the former vice president’s comments, a group of Democrat lawmakers had begun discussing the subject openly on Capitol Hill. Although no definitive agreement has been reached, a surprising number of lawmakers, including moderate Democrats, have expressed openness to either discarding or reforming the filibuster. Most notably, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have floated the idea as a way to prevent Republicans from obstructing Biden’s political agenda, provided the presumptive Democrat nominee wins.
“I will not stand idly by for four years and watch the Biden administration’s initiatives blocked at every turn,” Coons, a top congressional ally of the former vice president, said in June.
Progressive Democrats have argued that the filibuster is undemocratic, as it allows a minority of lawmakers—at times even only one lawmaker—to hold up legislation favored by a majority of the Senate’s members. As neither party has held a supermajority within the chamber in recent years, bills without broad bipartisan support have gained little traction.
Some progressives, including Biden’s one-time rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), favor scrapping the rule in order to advance controversial legislation on topics such as gun control and abortion. Moderates, on the other hand, have defended the filibuster, claiming the limitation it imposes on majority rule was the “entire premise of the Senate” in the first place.