Vote to remove controversial legislative device fails in U.S. Senate

The following story was written by a student on the staff of The Jaguar Times as part of Hilliard Bradley High School’s Journalism Production course.


by Eric Sese Staff Writer

The two Democratic initiatives failed by majority votes held Wednesday evening in the United States Senate chamber pictured on the right side of the U.S. Capitol. Photo from unsplash.com.
The two Democratic initiatives failed by majority votes held Wednesday evening in the United States Senate chamber pictured on the right side of the U.S. Capitol. Photo from unsplash.com.

In one of their biggest blows to Joe Biden, Senate Republicans successfully defeated two ambitious legislative endeavors by Senate Democrats. Late Wednesday evening, the Republicans utilized a legislative device known as the “filibuster” to block Democrats from passing major voting rights legislation. Shortly thereafter, Democrats failed to garner enough votes to remove, or “nuke”, the filibuster. While sighs of relief can be heard from Republicans across the country, it is one of the biggest setbacks to the Democrats’ legislative agenda.

All 100 senators took their seats on the floor of the Senate Wednesday evening, a rare occurrence only in the most decisive of votes.


Democrats, who hold a 50-50 majority in the Senate because of Democrat Vice President Kamala Harris, were ready to vote along party lines to pass their ambitious voting rights bill. The voting rights bill sought to federalize elections, meaning all election rules and procedures would be made by the federal government rather than state governments. The Senate voted 50-50 on the bill, but it did not pass. Even though a 50-50 vote plus tiebreaker Kamala Harris would’ve been sufficient, the failed vote can be attributed to the Republicans use of the filibuster.


The filibuster, which was employed Wednesday night, is a legislative tactic which would require ⅗ of the Senate to vote in the affirmative for a bill to pass. Known as “talking a bill to death”, the filibuster allows whoever employed it to debate on the respective bill for an unlimited amount of time unless ⅗ of the Senate chooses to end debate. Initially intended to protect the minority party in the Senate, it has been criticized by both parties whenever it is politically inconvenient. The Senate Democrats resorted to an intricate loophole in Senate procedure, known as the “nuclear option”, to remove the filibuster.


To “nuke” the filibuster would require a simple-majority vote in order to essentially prohibit its use for certain votes. Democrats have used it to block the use of the filibuster for votes on presidential nominees, while Republicans used it for Supreme Court nominees. Due to two moderate, outspoken dissenting Democrats, it was unlikely to succeed. The vote to nuke the filibuster failed with 50 Republicans and two Democrats voting against the attempt.


Although Democrats are at a loss, the two dissenters from within their party have supported reforms to the filibuster. Republicans lauded their courage to break away from their party in such a political polarized environment. They argued that, especially in a closely divided Senate, the filibuster preserves the value of bipartisanship and encourages legislation that would best serve the interest of a larger majority of the country.


No matter your position, the Congress is a sacred institution of American democracy where everyone must have a voice.


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