The filibuster is an archaic, undemocratic Senate “rule” that’s nowhere to be found in the Constitution. It means that in order for any bill to get a vote in the Senate, at least 60 senators have to agree to it. In other words, it only takes 41 senators to kill a bill.
As we’ve seen this summer, leaders in both the House and Senate are proposing bold new plans that finally meet the scope of the climate crisis. But these plans are moot with Mitch McConnell standing in the way, ready to block anything that could mean progress. In order to turn those plans into laws, we need to first eliminate the filibuster.
The filibuster means that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans — who collectively receive millions of dollars in contributions from the fossil fuel industry — essentially have veto power over any climate legislation (and any other progressive legislation you might care about). We’ve seen before how this unfolds: In 2009, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act — which would have created a cap-and-trade system to curb carbon emissions — but it never got a vote in the Senate, even though Democrats had a large majority.
So Senate Republicans (and the big polluters that bankroll them) can block any legislation they want — whether they’re in the majority or minority. As it stands, the fossil fuel filibuster wins the day.
We call it like it is: The Senate is broken. The climate is in ever-increasing crisis. And to fix one (the climate crisis), we need to fix the other (the Senate).
The leaders we elect this November will be tasked with solving three crises at once: the climate crisis, the racial justice crisis, and the COVID-19 crisis. Eliminating the filibuster is a necessary step toward solving these problems and more.