The House Just Passed HR1 Again

Isn’t it ironic that the filibuster is supposed to protect minorities?

If you follow politics, you will have noticed that the United States House of Representatives, the house of the people, has passed HR 1, again. Democrats want to make sure we can follow the money, get registered to vote, and stay on the voter rolls as long as we’re alive, and they want every state to use non-partisan commissions to draw district lines. And they want to restore The Voting Rights Act. Vox has a nice write-up here.

What I find most interesting in the reporting of this latest development is the focus on the filibuster in the Senate, a rule that indirectly requires 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate instead of a simple majority. That focus is on the fact that HR1 will never survive a filibustering stick-in-the-mud minority that is in turn focused on reducing the number of US citizens who are allowed to vote.

The point of the filibuster? If you scratch an elite conservative, they’ll tell you that the filibuster is a way to ensure that the minority is heard. Oh, like when more than 400 bills passed by a Democrat majority in the House over 4 years never saw the light of day in the Senate? Is that what they meant? Huh. Republicans must know that they’re sliding into the minority in America. How do we know this?

That same article on Vox.com says HR1 is very popular among voters, even among many Republicans. So I guess only the most diehard conservatives would be against making it easier for Americans to vote, even during a pandemic. The problem then is getting past all the baseless fraud claims made by a former president we shall not name. Many conservative Republicans, particularly those in the Senate, appear to have been possessed by such claims. I think they’re in the minority. I also think they’d really like to preserve the filibuster, too. You know, just for spite.

I also think it’s very interesting that Kyrsten Sinema, a former member of the Green Party — a minority party if there ever was one, is so interested in preserving the filibuster. Yes, she has said that she has seen the need for something like the filibuster in the Arizona statehouse which is owned by the Republicans. But she doesn’t seem to notice the enormous damage the filibuster has done to our country. The only use of the filibuster is to drag the country kicking and screaming to the right. There is nothing noble about the filibuster.

I have also noted Joe Manchin’s defiance on the topic of the filibuster. He sincerely believes that the filibuster should stay. I’m sure he’s playing to a conservative majority in his state — he’s playing politics here. He says he would never vote to abolish the filibuster, and he seems sure that someday the rest of us would understand why.

Sinema and Manchin aren’t the only members of the Senate who support the filibuster, but I suspect they only support it if it actually serves a purpose. I’m not sure what purpose they think that a minority party veto would actually serve. Especially when we consider the polling on HR1. HR1 polls very well with Democrats, Republicans and independents, so it’s not so hard to see who the filibuster is supposed to protect.

The way I see it, ending the filibuster would compel the party in the minority to make a broader appeal to all Americans, not just the minorities holding on to that power. To put it differently, if a bill in Congress polls well with Americans, there is no reason that a minority party should be able to prevent its passage through Congress.

But if you listen to conservative Republicans, they will tell you that they have good ideas and that they should be heard. Over the last 40 years, Republicans have gained majorities in the majority of the state governments. Notice how many people were thrown out of work, and how many businesses failed in the pandemic. Notice how we were not prepared for the pandemic as a result of that majority interest held by the Republicans in the statehouses. If their ideas are so good, we would have been prepared for the pandemic. Scientists told us this was going to happen, it was not a question of “if”, but of “when”.

The filibuster, in practice over 40 years, got us here, shaken by and unprepared for a pandemic. If we want HR1 and other progressive initiatives, the filibuster must go. If we must abolish the filibuster to pass HR1, I’m all in. And I’m not very concerned that the GOP might take over the Senate again in a few years. Why not? I also note that many Republican governors are now very anxious to get the financial aid offered in Biden’s latest coronavirus relief bill. Maybe those Republican governors think we’re all in this together. Don’t know, but it sure seems like the country is slowly turning liberal.

The Democrats in the Senate represent 20 million more people than the Republicans. That trend will continue over time. If the GOP continues to be a minority party, they might have to tone it down, and maybe even cooperate with Democrats. You know, by passing laws that are in the interest of more people than just their fanatical base.

Write on.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store