Today, following the AFL-CIO’s announcement of their support for filibuster reform, Tré Easton, Senior Advisor at Battle Born Collective, released the following statement:
This memo outlines the evolution of the filibuster from the “talking filibuster” into the supermajority threshold we know today. Nonexistent in the Framers’ vision, the talking filibuster first emerged in the middle of the 19th century, after all the Framers had passed away. Its chief innovator and practitioner was John C. Calhoun, who sought to increase the power of the minority in the Senate on behalf of the slaveowners he represented. When James Madison had designed the Senate, he had intended the minority to be guaranteed a voice in the process, but he made clear that all decision points were to remain majority-rule (except those enumerated in the Constitution for supermajority thresholds, like removal from office and Constitutional amendments). As Calhoun explicitly stated, his own goal was to expand the minority’s power beyond what Madison had intended, into an outright veto over the majority.
“Pressure point: Biden is getting some pressure on the left. A number of groups — including Adam Jentleson and Rebecca Kirszner Katz’s Battle Born Collective and Justice Democrats — are saying Biden is not moving fast enough to enact his agenda through Congress.”
“The prospect that a large part of their agenda could go nowhere, even though their party controls both houses of Congress and the White House, has angered many Democratic activists. They’ve put abolition of the filibuster into the spotlight to a degree not seen for nearly half a century. A book denouncing the filibuster by Adam Jentleson, a former aide to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has become required reading for progressive Democrats.”
“I think it’s super smart,” said Adam Jentleson, a former aide to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. “If you let Mitch McConnell define what is bipartisan, nothing ever will be. Defining it based on public opinion is accurate and opens the door to doing big things.”
“This is going to require presidential leadership,” said Tre Easton, senior adviser at Battle Born Collective, a progressive group pushing to end the filibuster. President Biden has a choice to make pretty early, probably earlier than he wanted, about how much he wants to push.
“Mr. Jentleson said Republicans had abandoned any coherent policy goals in lieu of pursuing a “negative partisanship” agenda — which he defines as “doing simply whatever will terrorize your opponents the most.” In essence, Trumpism.”
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—colloquially known as ARRA—into law. As we mark the twelfth anniversary of ARRA, Democrats are again in the position of rescuing the country from the havoc wrought by a Republican president. The good news is that Democratic leaders seem to have learned many of the lessons of 2009. Already, the Biden-Harris administration has begun taking meaningful executive steps to address a host of issues—from immigration to climate change to national security. We applaud those and look forward to continued action.
“Democrats have not used the power they have as efficiently as they could,” said Ms. Kirszner Katz. “We have very little time before the midterms and we need to get as much as we can right away.”