The Biden administration is struggling to get many of its signature agenda items through Congress, despite their party holding a narrow majority in both chambers. One reason why: the Senate filibuster. An internal fight amongst Washington Democrats is underway over whether they should work to dismantle or at least reform the long-standing practice. Derived from a Dutch word meaning "pirate," the filibuster essentially allows a small number of senators to block certain legislative actions, requiring a “supermajority” of 60 to agree before moving forward. You may recognize the term from the classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in which Jimmy Stewart’s character delivers a nearly 24-hour speech on the Senate floor to counter the corrupt practices of his colleagues. Unlike Stewart’s idealistic Senator Smith, Republicans have mostly utilized the filibuster to fight majority-supported bills like voting rights legislation. The Recount’s Steve Morris takes us through the past, present and potential future of the Senate filibuster.
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