Center for American Progress

4 Ways Reforming the Filibuster Will Improve Lives
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4 Ways Reforming the Filibuster Will Improve Lives

It's time to say farewell to the filibuster so Congress can pass vital and popular legislation on voting rights, equal pay, and more.

Congress is on the cusp of passing the Freedom to Vote Act, a transformative bill that would help protect American democracy and expand Americans’ right to vote. If the U.S. Senate could enact legislation by a majority vote, the bill already would have passed. Instead, the last time the bill came for a vote, it was filibustered.

Protecting our democracy is too important to allow an outdated Senate rule stand in the way. In a future in which the filibuster is reformed or eliminated, however, Congress could pass the Freedom to Vote Act, alongside a range of other policies supported by most Americans—from paycheck fairness to universal background checks for gun purchases.

Use the sliders below to see what the world could look like if we said farewell to the filibuster by enacting serious reform. (Before images are on the right, after images are on the left.)

Freedom to Vote Act

The Freedom to Vote Act would bolster democracy by protecting voting rights, preventing partisan gerrymandering, and reducing the influence of big money in politics. Filibuster reform would enable this vital piece of legislation to no longer be blocked by the Republican minority in the Senate. In turn, Congress would finally be able to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and protect the integrity of U.S. democracy.

John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) would restore the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, creating strong new protections that safeguard voting rights, especially for communities of color. It is urgent that policymakers protect Americans’ sacred voting rights, but the filibuster is preventing this legislation from passing the Senate. Without the filibuster, the VRAA could be signed into law, ensuring that all Americans have access to the ballot box and can exercise their constitutional right.

Bipartisan Background Checks Act and Enhanced Background Checks Act

If passed, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and Enhanced Background Checks Act would, respectively, instate background checks for all gun purchases and provide the FBI with more time to conduct background checks. With recent spikes in gun violence, such legislation is now more necessary than ever. And by reforming the filibuster, Congress could finally pass these transformative measures to protect communities across the country from gun violence.

Paycheck Fairness Act

The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) would bring the United States one step closer to achieving equal pay by strengthening existing equal pay protections, prohibiting retaliation against workers who discuss their pay, limiting employer’s reliance on salary history, and much more. Through filibuster reform, this legislation could pass the Senate and be signed into law. Everyone deserves pay equity; the PFA gets us much closer to achieving this end.

Conclusion

The Center for American Progress is part of the growing chorus of voices recognizing that the time is ripe for filibuster reform. Our democracy is facing unprecedented challenges. Numerous states are enacting laws that degrade voting rights and put fair elections in danger. Congress should not allow an outdated Senate rule to stand in the way of addressing those challenges and enacting other policies widely supported by the American people

Your voting rights are under attack—we must reform the filibuster to protect them

The Jim Crow Filibuster Must Go

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

Authors

Alex Tausanovitch

Director, Campaign Finance and Electoral Reform

Maggie Amjad

Digital Strategy Intern


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