D.he American President Joe Biden has spoken out in favor of reforming a procedure that would allow a minority in the Senate to block many of the majority’s proposals. The so-called filibuster process does not have to be abolished, but made more difficult, Biden told ABC.
The rule has been in effect for more than 100 years. It states that 60 of the 100 senators must approve an end to the debate in the event of a bill in order for a vote to take place at all.
Back to the old rule
Biden now proposed to make this more difficult again: A vote could then only be held up as long as a senator actually still speaks in plenary. Such marathon speeches used to be more common, but recently the rules had been changed to be more blockade-friendly.
“You had to get up and occupy the plenary, you had to go on,” said former Senator Biden, remembering the old rule. “As soon as you stopped talking, you lost.” The minority’s ability to block so many majority initiatives hurts the country, Biden said. “Democracy is having a hard time working,” said the president in the interview, excerpts from which were published on Tuesday evening (local time).
Republicans threaten total blockade
The Republicans in the Senate have warned Democrats against reforming the filibuster. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday the Senate would be a pile-up of 100 cars in such a case. “Nothing works anymore,” he wrote on Twitter. His Republicans would block everything, he threatened.
Biden’s Democrats control exactly 50 votes in the Senate. In the event of a stalemate, however, Vice President Kamala Harris, who is ex officio President of the Senate, can help the Democrats win. Biden’s ambitious plans – from reforming immigration to combating climate change or tax increases to finance infrastructure spending – could fail because of the filibuster. The calls for the Democrats to be abolished or at least reformed are getting louder and louder.
In the House of Representatives, the second chamber of the American Congress, a simple majority is sufficient for bills – and there is no filibuster.
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