Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn) (L) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) have called for an end to the filibuster. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic U.S. Senators Tina Smith (L) and Amy Klobuchar, both of Minnesota, have joined the growing chorus of voices calling for an end to the filibuster. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) 

'It Has to Go': The Demand to End Filibuster Intensifies in US Senate

"The filibuster didn't come from the Constitution, or from our founders," argued Sen. Tina Smith, one of a growing number of Democrats now coming out against the arcane procdure. 

Brett Wilkins

Faced with the grim prospect that key items on President Joe Biden's agenda will face certain death by Republican obstruction, a growing number of Senate Democrats in recent days are joining with those already calling for abolition of the filibuster. 

Amid the high likelihood that even the most modest Democratic proposals would fail to muster a filibuster-proof 60 vote majority in the Senate, centrists including Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) have joined progressive colleagues in speaking out against the arcane procedure.

"The Senate needs to abolish the filibuster," Smith asserted in a Thursday Facebook post, blasting the procedure as a longtime "enemy of progress." Arguing that "it has to go," Smith wrote that: 

The filibuster didn't come from the Constitution, or from our founders. It grew up as tool developed by a minority in the senate—mostly white, racist Southern senators from the Democratic party—to protect their interest in owning and exploiting Black bodies.

After the Civil War, and passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, and after a brief period of hopefulness for the future of Black Americans, the filibuster became an even more powerful tool, used to deny voting rights and the opportunity for Black people to own a home or land, and to build wealth and opportunity for their own families.

"Some will argue that the filibuster is a crucial stopgap, designed to protect the rights of the minority against an overweening majority that would trample those rights," wrote Smith. "I've not seen that. What the filibuster does is allow a minority of Senators to just say no to any idea they don't like. They don't have to negotiate because they can stop anything.  [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell is the master of obstruction, but the big problem is that this is fundamentally undemocratic."

In an interview with Mother Jones' Ari Berman published Wednesday, Klobuchar also said she "would get rid of the filibuster."

"I have favored filibuster reform for a long time and now especially for this critical election bill," she added, referring to the For the People Act, landmark legislation that would expand voting rights, rein in dark money, and strengthen federal ethics rules. On Thursday the House of Representatives voted to approve the measure—which is backed by Biden and a majority of the American people—without a single Republican vote.

However, the bill faces certain defeat in the Senate unless the upper chamber's Democratic majority ends the filibuster first. On Thursday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) tweeted a list of other progressive agenda items she said will "end up in McConnell's legislative graveyard" due to the filibuster:

Numerous Democratic senators, including Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), oppose ending the filibuster. And while it may not be possible to abolish the procedure, they can substantially weaken it by taking steps including requiring two-fifths of the Senate—or 40 members—to continue a debate instead of 60 to end it, returning to the three-fifths "present and voting" standard, and reducing the 60-vote supermajority threshold to 55 senators.

"The same filibuster that blocked civil rights legislation a generation ago will be used to block the Equality Act, the For the People Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act," lamented Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) on Thursday night. "But it doesn’t have to be this way."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Massive Demonstration of Support for Lopez Obrador in Mexico City

AMLO was elected in 2018 and heralded as the Bernie Sanders of Mexico

Common Dreams staff ·


Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo