20 Progressive Faith Leaders Call for the Abolition of the Senate Filibuster
Some 20 progressive religious leaders have joined with the Poor People's Campaign in an initiative that is pushing for the repeal of the U.S. Senate filibuster.
"The filibuster is a centerpiece of the arcane, obstructionist rules of the United States Senate. It bars that body from the deliberative role it is supposed to have," Poor People's Campaign Co-Chair Rev. William J. Barber II, the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, North Carolina, said during a press conference last week.
"The filibuster discourages public debate. It impedes the public's capacity to find out whether or not their elected representatives are blocking legislation that would serve them and lift them up. The filibuster creates an impoverished democracy," he added, according to The Christian Post.
The filibuster is the action taken by Senators to delay or to stop a vote on a proposal. In many cases, a Senator will take the floor and talk continuously to delay a vote.
To force a vote, the Senate must get a cloture of 60 senators.
Currently, the Senate is 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with Democrats. In the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris is the tie-breaking vote.
Previously, President Joe Biden has said he does not support repealing the filibuster.
The religious leaders who recently joined the Poor People's Campaign also sent a letter to legislators asking them to not use a filibuster to "prevent passage of federal voting rights protections."
"Many people have supported the filibuster as a procedural rule that promotes bi-partisanship by encouraging Senators to work across the aisle in pursuit of policies that benefit all Americans," the "Pastoral Letter to the Nation" reads.
"While this may be a noble ideal, the sad reality is that the filibuster has been used over and again to subvert democracy by denying the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who want to protect the promise of unfettered access to [a] ballot for every American. The filibuster must step aside so that democracy can survive."
Opponents of the idea of repealing the filibuster say the procedure keeps the major political parties in check.
"The past three decades, in fact, are filled with moments when the filibuster prevented Republicans from pushing through legislation that would have made America a far darker place," said Edward M. Kennedy, former assistant attorney general to former President Barack Obama.
"The Democrats now in power should weigh the present opportunity against future peril," he wrote in a column for Politico. "Republicans have their own ambitious agenda which they will be delighted to enact over the helpless cries of a filibuster-less Democratic minority as soon as they can."
The group of religious leaders who have joined the Poor People's Campaign's in calling for an end to the filibuster includes Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III, senior pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas; Rev. Reginald Buckley, senior pastor of Cade Chapel Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi; and Bishop Yvette Flunder, senior pastor of City of Refuge UCC in Oakland, California.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.