“A relic of Jim Crow” is what President Obama called the filibuster, referring to the grim 100 year-old system of denying civil rights to Black people.
The filibuster effectively requires a supermajority, 60 Senate votes out of 100, to pass most laws.  It’s a cannon aimed at bills that protect minority rights, like voting.
Senator Joe Manchin says he won’t support any move to “eliminate or weaken” the filibuster, and the Democrats need his vote to do anything.
When people talk about changing this relic, they only speak of two ways to do it.  In reality there are at least four things we could do.
We hear about the “nuclear option,” eliminating the filibuster entirely, which the GOP promises would be followed by a “nuclear winter” when they get the majority.  That’s one way.
We also hear about reviving the old “talking filibuster,” which required the objecting senator or senators to keep speaking in order to delay a vote.  That’s another way.
It used to take 67 senators to end a filibuster; now it only takes 60.  That’s because the rules were changed, and they could be changed again, to reduce the required number to, say, 55That’s a third way.
Other rule changes made some types of legislation “filibuster-proof” by allowing them to pass with a simple majority, like some budget items and judicial and cabinet nominations.  More types could be added, such as voting rights.  That’s a fourth way.
We don’t hear much about these last two approaches, but we should.  They might present a real solution.
Joe Manchin says Democrats should seek compromise with the Republicans instead of ending the filibuster.
OK, but he’s violating his own compromise principle by saying the only choice is between keeping the filibuster as is and dumping it entirely.  There are several alternatives between those two extremes, and if he’s really a compromiser, Joe Manchin should be looking at them.
Source Sen. Joe Manchin photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters



About George Lynch
George Lynch is a fifth-generation Long Islander and a fifth-generation Democrat.  He and his wife of 25 years, Ursula, live in Quiogue and enjoy nothing so much as sitting serenely on their dock by Turkey Bridge on Aspatuck Creek.
George joined the Southampton Town Democratic Committee upon his retirement in 2008 and became its Treasurer in 2009.  His forte is writing campaign material, but he has served a variety of functions over the years in which the Southampton Dems have grown from a negligible minority into the Town’s controlling party.  He loves the people and he loves the fray [more].