A filibuster is an attempt in the United States Senate to delay or prevent legislation by talking for an extended amount of time. A senator who wants to prevent a bill from being passed conducts a “talking filibuster.” The senator is allowed to stand and speak for as long as they like, even if it means reading everything in their office.
To finish the process, 60 senators must decide that what was stated was not worth debating since there are no more points to debate. Unfortunately, this has happened quite a bit recently, with some individuals fearing that filibusters have grown far too powerful and common. The filibuster has benefits and drawbacks for senators, the opposition, and the general public.
Pros Of Filibuster
As previously stated, filibustering may benefit anyone except the opposition. Filibusters have been used in the Senate for a variety of reasons.
1. It may be utilized by citizens to influence government policy:
The capacity for individuals to have their views heard on an issue through legislative methods is the first of many benefits of the filibuster. This is one of the reasons why filibusters were so popular in Congress before 1917. Since they gave members of both parties a chance to be heard.
After 1917, however, individuals employed filibusters less frequently and more regularly to let the minority party postpone or prevent legislation from being voted on.
2. It can be used to raise public awareness about a problem:
Citizens and media can learn more about topics and often hear facts that they would not otherwise hear during a filibuster. This is especially true at committee or subcommittee hearings. When members have the
opportunity to question experts from a variety of backgrounds.
Filibusters also draw more media attention to specific topics by bringing them into the political limelight for more discussion.
3. It can be used to postpone action on a problem:
Although filibusters were established to allow individuals and their elected representatives to speak out against the legislation. They have been used by both parties to avoid votes or acts at all costs.
For example, during Barack Obama’s administration, he encountered several instances. Where Republicans would filibuster whatever move he attempted until it was no longer politically practicable.
This is one of the reasons why there are fewer filibusters now than ever before. Our political process has begun to shift faster toward party-line voting rather than discourse among members.
4. It can be used to keep the majority party from going overboard:
Filibusters are also seen by some as a safeguard for our democracy, ensuring that the ruling party does not enact laws. Without taking into account the demands of both parties or members of various backgrounds.
This is especially true for subjects like civil rights, where many people feared they would be shot down. If they weren’t given enough time in committee hearings and discussions.
5. It has the potential to influence public opinion:
Filibusters also assist senators and representatives influence the attitudes of their people. By allowing them to talk publicly in front of cameras for long periods on a certain topic.
This is especially critical for contentious or nuanced matters that many voters may not comprehend without a full explanation, such as the Obamacare filibuster.
This is why politicians frequently speak for long periods in these circumstances. If they don’t, someone else will come along and use this chance to persuade people in ways that aren’t meant.
Cons Of Filibuster
Filibustering isn’t always advantageous to senators; its downsides may occasionally stymie even normal political processes.
1. It can be used to influence public opinion to obtain political advantage:
While filibusters are frequently viewed as a method for lawmakers to stand firm on topics they believe in. This is not always the case, as some politicians may use them merely to gain political advantage. By spending more time on television and radio than others. The clearest illustration of this is Marco Rubio’s use of time during the 2016 GOP Primary Debate.
Unfortunately, filibuster reform has occurred so infrequently in our country’s history. It’s impossible to tell which case fits into either of these two categories without first looking at the legislation or subject at hand.
2. It can be used to stop votes from happening:
Filibusters have several drawbacks, one of which is that they have been used to block voting at all costs. Although representatives have a higher chance of getting re-elected when they demonstrate that they are strong individuals who do not back down for anybody or anything.
The finest example is John McCain’s statement during the 2008 GOP Primary Debate that he would not vote on any budget under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership.
This implies that even if their constituents approve the legislation, it will take weeks or months for both houses to adopt it. Because to filibuster reformers’ need for more time during debates, which eventually leads to party-line voting rather than bipartisan consensus.
3. It can be used to keep the majority party from going overboard:
Filibusters are also considered a democratic safety net, ensuring that the ruling party does not enact legislation. Without taking into account the demands of both parties or members from various backgrounds. This is especially true for civil rights issues, where many thought they would have been defeated if not given adequate time in committee hearings and discussions like the 2017 GOP Primary Debate.
4. It can be used to sway public opinion in favor of or against certain legislation:
Filibusters are used to delay particular pieces of legislation to persuade people’s sentiments against it rather than for it. Ted Cruz, for example, came out against Obamacare at the 2017 GOP Primary Debate.
While filibuster reform has made these methods less popular in recent decades, minority groups no longer desire any kind of delay technique. That prevents them from having their opinions heard at any cost because they now know that the bill will be voted on one way or another.
5. The Senate can discard what was said:
In the future, what was stated might be utilized against what was just voted on. Another downside is that passing laws can take a long time and may even halt or stop things from happening.
Starting with “I believe” or “In my view,” I believe the Senate may dismiss what was stated because they don’t want to deal with it. This might prevent important work from being completed. It also consumes a significant amount of time as other legislation waits for this one to pass, allowing senators to accomplish nothing constructive.
Finally, what they just voted for might come back to haunt them if similar legislation comes up again in the future.
The filibuster has been a component of Senate rules for nearly 200 years and is one of America’s most distinctive features. It gives minority parties a say over legislation that might otherwise pass without their
involvement or consent. It does, however, have several disadvantages that may affect various parties in different ways.