President Biden’s unexpected endorsement of making senators earn their filibusters has been a shot of adrenaline to the progressive push to reform the Senate’s de facto 60-vote threshold for passing any legislation. Stephen Colbert asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) about that on Thursday’s Late Show.
“The filibuster is the least democratic aspect of our least democratic part of our government,” Colbert said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) just said “if y’all change the filibuster, there will be ‘scorched earth’ of the kind that no one presently sitting in the Senate has ever seen,” he added. “What could possibly be more ‘scorched earth’ than the way Mitch McConnell has just run roughshod for the past four to eight years, really? I mean, isn’t he threatening that if you do this, Mitch McConnell will continue to be Mitch McConnell?”
Schumer laughed and said yes, “we used to call the Senate, when he was in charge, the legislative graveyard.” Now, he continued, “Mitch McConnell can do all the threatening and bluster he wants, it’s not gonna stop us” from somehow enacting “big, bold change.”
“How did the filibuster become the legislation buster that it is today?” Trevor Noah asked at The Daily Show. He dug back to the origins of the filibuster, how racism fueled its rise, and McConnell’s leading role in making it ubiquitous.
“Once Obama became president, McConnell began filibustering everything,” Noah said. “Mitch McConnell loves to filibuster so much, he filibustered his own bill.” This lazy filibuster “became the new precedent,” he added. “When Democrats got the chance, they blocked President Trump’s agenda just as hard, to the point where now, practically every piece of legislation in the Senate needs 60 votes to pass. And that’s why there’s a movement to get rid of the filibuster entirely.”
“McConnell has promised a ‘scorched earth Senate’ if Democrats change the filibusters to pass sweeping and urgently needed democracy reforms,” Seth Meyers argued at Late Night. Meanwhile, Republican state legislators, stung by losses in 2020 and Trump’s voting fraud lies, are “unleashing an unprecedented tidal wave of voter suppression laws,” and “nuking or changing the filibuster to stop them is a moral necessity,” he said. “You know how everyone’s always complaining about low voter turnout in America? 2020 showed us how to fix it: Just make voting easier.” You can watch him break down filibuster politics and policy below.