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Pressure on Senate to End Filibuster   04/09 06:30

   Nearly 150 groups are calling on the Senate to eliminate the filibuster, 
saying it is a Jim Crow-era relic that can be used to block an upcoming voting 
rights bill and other priorities, and should be relegated to the "dustbin of 
history."

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly 150 groups are calling on the Senate to eliminate 
the filibuster, saying it is a Jim Crow-era relic that can be used to block an 
upcoming voting rights bill and other priorities, and should be relegated to 
the "dustbin of history."

   In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer obtained by The 
Associated Press, the organizations indicated the matter takes on fresh urgency 
after passage of Georgia's more restrictive new elections law.

   The Senate is poised to consider a sweeping elections and ethics package 
from Democrats, the "For the People Act," that would counter the Georgia law 
and others like it emerging in the states. But it has little chance of breaking 
past an expected filibuster of opposition from Republicans.

   "We call on you to eliminate the filibuster as a weapon that a minority of 
senators can use to overturn the will of the majority," said Fix our Senate and 
a roster of leading progressive and advocacy groups focused on gun control, 
climate change, immigration and other issues.

   "Senate Democrats will soon face a choice: Protect our democracy and pass 
the For the People Act, or protect the filibuster -- an outdated and abused 
'Jim Crow relic' that deserves to be tossed into the dustbin of history."

   The pressure is mounting on Schumer and the Democrats as time ticks on 
President Joe Biden's priorities. With the Senate evenly-split, 50-50, and the 
Democrats holding just a slim majority in the House, it's clear that 
Republicans will be able to easily block bills from passing Congress, which 
they plan to do.

   Any single senator can halt legislation from advancing to a vote simply by 
signaling an intent to filibuster. Established as a way to allow unlimited 
debate, the filibuster practice has been sharpened over the years as a 
procedural weapon to grind action to a halt in the Senate.

   To overcome a filibuster takes 60 votes, but some Democratic senators have 
proposed lowering that threshold to 51 votes, as has been done to allow 
approval of judicial nominees. But it would take all Democrats to agree to 
change the rules, and centrists, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are not 
on board. Senate Democrats hold the slim majority because Vice President Kamala 
Harris, a Democrat, casts the tie-breaking vote.

   The debate ahead carries echoes of the Civil Rights era, when 
pro-segregation Southerners blocked voting rights and other legislation that 
sought to undo Jim Crow restrictions on Black Americans. They often halted 
bills with filibusters, including a record-setter in 1957 by South Carolina 
Sen. Strom Thurmond.

   The election legislation coming before the Senate offers a vivid test case. 
Already approved by the House as H.R. 1, the sweeping federal package would 
expanding voting access by allowing universal registration, early voting by 
mail and other options, undoing some of Georgia's new law.

 
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