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Reality Check: The Filibuster Is Hurting Bipartisanship, Not Helping It

"Here is a common sense reform: require 41 votes to sustain a filibuster, rather than require 60 votes to overcome it," John Avlon said.
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As John Avlon pointed out on his Reality Check segment this morning, a majority of U.S. senators voted for it but there will be no bipartisan commission to look into the January 6th Capitol attack.

"Heading into Memorial Day weekend, Republicans killed a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th attack on our Capitol. It was a gut punch to our democracy. It died by a vote of 54 in favor, to 35 votes against. You heard that right. Having a clear majority did not matter. Despite six Republican senators, Cassidy, Collins, Murkowski, Romney and Sasse joining with the Democrats, 11 senators didn't even bother to show up for the vote. And of these, Democrats Kyrsten Sinema, Patty Murray, and Republican Pat Toomey say they would have voted for the commission.

"It would have failed with 57 votes for it and 35 against. That's a sign that something is deeply wrong with our democracy. Remember, the dictionary definition of democracy is government by the people, especially rule of the majority. We're experiencing a sustained assault on those ideas. Majority rule is increasingly undermined by the electoral college and partisan gerrymandering, as well as voting restrictions being jammed through Republican legislatures.

"In Congress, we have become numb to bills that command clear majority support being blocked by a minority of senators, and the filibuster is almost always the murder weapon when it comes to killing these ideas, just as it was with the January 6th commission. Even centrist Sen. Joe Manchin came to the realization that Republicans were not negotiating in good faith, telling reporters, 'I'm very disappointed that politics has trumped, literally and figuratively the good of the country.'

"Republicans backing the Big Lie, the sedition caucus seem to hate Democrats more than they love our democracy. What can we do? Listen to the co-author of 'How Democracies Die' on Reliable Sources."

Democracy requires constant mending. And so we can't just simply stand still and assume that democracy is a machine that runs of itself.

"Now, Joe Manchin opposes ending the filibuster but this latest insult makes the case it's time to mend it if not end it, because the filibuster is not some grand tradition. This graph shows how the filibuster has been abused in recent years. It used to be really rare. Then the talking filibuster replaced with the silent hold in the mid '70s, which combined with hyper partisanship, resulted in off the rails obstruction. The filibuster may actually be hurting bipartisanship instead of helping it. So here is a common sense reform: require 41 votes to sustain a filibuster, rather than require 60 votes to overcome it. Put the pressure on the obstructionists, rather than the senators trying to solve problems across partisan lines.

"This first idea still provides plenty of protection for principled objections. And it would have allowed a vote on the bipartisan January 6th commission to go forward. Republicans want to stop talking about the insurrection's attack on our Capitol. But the sustained attack on our democracy demands a response, especially when voting rights are under assault and political violence is increasingly invoked -- not just by insurrectionists or Matt Gaetz talking about Second Amendment solutions or Michael Flynn, who appeared to endorse a military coup.

"A new survey shows that 28% of Republicans believe that, quote, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.

"So let's talk about true American patriots, given we just marked Memorial Day. The fallen soldiers we honored did not die for any one political party. They died for our democracy. And the least we can do to honor their sacrifice, is to hand the democracy to the next generation stronger, not weaker.

"And that's your reality check."

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