Discuss: Should the filibuster process die in the U.S. Senate?

April 8, 2021 • 9:30 am

(Note: I’m not an expert on politics, so forgive me if I make errors of fact in the following.)

In the American Senate, a filibuster is a tactic used to prevent legislation from coming to a vote. It stems from the Senate tradition of allowing unlimited debate on any such measure. That means that a single Senator, if he or she wishes to speak indefinitely, can postpone a vote.

Filibusters were often used in the Fifties and Sixties to prevent Civil Rights legislation. The longest such monologue was by Senator Strom Thurmond, who in 1953 spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes protesting the Civil Rights Bill of 1957, though he ultimately lost.

At that time, a two-thirds majority vote was required for “cloture”, or ending the debate. In 1975, the cloture requirement was reduced to three-fifths, so that now 60 Senators must vote to end debate.

But they need no longer monologue, since there is in effect a “virtual filibuster” in which a filibuster can be declared without any Senator having to speak. Thus, to get significant legislation through Congress, 60 Senators must vote to end a virtual filibuster (after that, a simple majority will suffice to pass legislation). The exceptions are confirmation of nominations, as in Supreme Court justices, as well as national emergencies, declarations of war, or time-limited measures like “budget reconciliation“.

Finally, it still requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate, or 67 votes, to end the procedure of filibustering for good; that majority is required to end all Senate rules. Doing this for filibusters is called the “nuclear option”.

As it stands, then, the Republicans have a weapon to prevent significant legislation from Democrats from being passed.

Now Senate Democrat Joe Manchin (West Virginia), the most conservative party member in that chamber, has written an op-ed in The Washington Post saying he will not “eliminate or weaken the filibuster” (click on screenshot to read, and see the Post’s analysis here).

What this means in effect is that Manchin will not vote with the Democratic majority to use the “budget reconciliation” process to bypass the filibuster (this has already been done for Biden’s spending proposal this year), nor will he vote to end a virtual filibuster. He is joined in this declaration by Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona).

Progressive Democrats, and even more centrist ones, are in favor of voting to eliminate the filibuster. (I don’t see how that will happen given that the elimination requires 67 votes.) But they can bypass the filibuster using “budget reconciliation,” though the Senate Parliamentarian could nix that. But in the absence of this reform, the Senate will be deadlocked on major legislation.

This is a long-winded introduction to a discussion thread: do you favor eliminating the filibuster? Manchin’s rationale is that we need bipartisan support for major legislative changes, and we can’t get that if a simple majority vote is all that’s required. But of course the Republicans are largely intransigent about bipartisanship, and Biden, who swore to “reach across the aisle,” has now recognized that, and is reconciled to 50/50 splits broken by Kamala Harris.

Is it time to eliminate the filibuster? Remember, if you say “yes,” and then the Republicans gain control of the Senate, which may well happen in a few years, then no Democratic legislation could be passed, even by a simple majority vote. (The only reason this could happen now is that Kamala Harris can vote to break a 50/50 tie.)

Weigh in below.

57 thoughts on “Discuss: Should the filibuster process die in the U.S. Senate?

  1. I think it should go back to requiring a monologue. Let them pee in a diaper while their mouths spew other toxins.

    1. No diapers! Or even nappies.
      If they really believe what they’re saying, then crapping ones pants (or skirt – equal-opportunity humiliation here ; sarongs for the fluid-gender-GenX senators to come. Senatrices? Senatrickies? ) on global TV should be a small price to pay.
      Would need to put down lino in place of the carpets though. Small price. Keep the woodwork well waxed.

  2. The Senate rule to end the filibuster with 60 votes is just that — a rule. Any Senate rule can be changed with just a majority vote. Thus, the Democrats could end or modify the 60 vote rule to end debate (the filibuster), but now seems unlikely with Manchin opposed.

    1. According to the Brookings Institution, you’re formally right, but things aren’t as simple as you make out:

      The most straightforward way to eliminate the filibuster would be to formally change the text of Senate Rule 22, the cloture rule that requires 60 votes to end debate on legislation. Here’s the catch: Ending debate on a resolution to change the Senate’s standing rules requires the support of two-thirds of the members present and voting. Absent a large, bipartisan Senate majority that favors curtailing the right to debate, a formal change in Rule 22 is extremely unlikely.

      In other words, you need 67 members to end the debate and go to a vote to change the rules.

      1. I find the Brookings statement you cite as odd because the filibuster rule was revoked in the past for judicial nominations below the Supreme Court and then later for the Supreme Court itself. In both instances the filibuster was revoked with far less than 67 votes (just a majority of Senators).

        Also, if it would require 67 votes to revoke the legislative filibuster, there would be no current controversy since the Democrats would not be able to get the 67. This makes the Brookings statement all the more puzzling.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/us/politics/neil-gorsuch-supreme-court-senate.html

  3. Of Course it should be eliminated. It is nothing more than the minority parties way to stop all progress in congress. That is exactly what it has been for many years. It is undemocratic and more recently a great rule for the racist. There is no such thing in the house and why should the lowly Senate have it. It is, to put it mildly, a joke. Almost as much a joke as that Senator from W. Virginia.

    Remember, there was no such thing as this in the Constitution and the founders would have thought it a terrible idea. Do you want democracy or do you want made up rules to avoid representation? The racist state laws now being passed to suppress voting could be stopped with the passage of laws already passed by the house but go no where because of the Senate and the filibuster. So the bottom line is – do you want a democracy to end in this country but save the filibuster?

    1. When everything I dislike is either racist or zenophobic or misogynistic, or anti-religious or anti-something good and decent then those charges have lost all common meanings and have become word scrabble that divides us and shuts down all constructive conversation. It feels good emotionally to rant and name call but it has ruined many relationships. Maybe it’s time I gave that approach to problem solving a nice long nap.

      1. Suzi, I feel sorry for you. You go have some constructive conversation with any of the republicans and see how that goes. Where have you been for god-sakes? You cannot be reading or watching the news.

  4. The nuclear option is not eliminating the filibuster with 67 votes,
    which as you say could never happen in a closely divided Senate. The nuclear option is a rule-bending mechanism for doing with 50 votes something that would normally take 60 or 67
    votes. The technical details are here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_option.

    I favor elimination of the filibuster, but don’t expect it to happen given Senator Manchin’s steadfast opposition. Failing that, I support restoration of the talking filibuster, which he has signalled he could support in the face of continued Republican intransigence.

  5. I think that Democratic Senators that say that the filibuster needs to be maintained as is because bipartisanship is important are either delusional or engaged in misdirection. The RP became nearly monolithic in opposition to the DP during Clinton’s administration and since the Obama administration has been entirely so with but a tiny handful of exceptions that were too tiny to make any difference.

    The filibuster was of no use to the minority Dems in the Senate when Trump was in the White House and McConnell controlled the Senate. The RP does not play by the rules, at all. And they have no interest in real governing anyway, which is another factor in why the filibuster does the Dems no good when they are in the minority. The RP want useless government. It allows them to steal easier and it allows them to blame even their own bad government on the Dems, while their credulous base believes it, even when they retcon the history of recent times.

    I see no benefit for the Dems in maintaining the filibuster. When the Dems have needed it the RP simply found other ways to do what they wanted. If the Dems get rid of it then they will be able to get some stuff done as long as they have a majority. If they lose the majority I don’t see how they would be worse of than they have been. Heck, it might even inspire, or force, some Reps to actually engage in some of that bipartisanship they’ve long since abandoned.

  6. Remember, if you say “yes,” and then the Republicans gain control of the Senate, which may well happen in a few years, then no Democratic legislation could be passed, even by a simple majority vote.

    If the filibuster is eliminated and Republicans regain control of the senate, the real problem is not that no Democratic legislation could be passed, but that the Republicans would then be free to ram through any legislation they like by a simple majority vote.

    Big deal. The filibuster doesn’t foster bipartisanship; it does its opposite: enhances intransigence by the party in the minority. Can anyone name a time when employment of the filibuster actually served the national commonweal? It’s primary legacy is that it enabled the old boll weevil Southern senators to prevent passage of a meaningful civil-rights act — or even so much as an anti-lynching bill — for the better part of a century following the Civil War.

    The procedure itself arose by happenstance, not by constitutional design. I say get rid of it. This is the real world, not Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

    1. Hell, if the dems eliminate the filibuster and actually pass legislation the majority of Americans want, the Republicans may never regain control of the senate in the first place; unless they actually start backing legislation that Americans want. I agree with you 100%. Either get rid of the filibuster, or say goodbye to any Democratic majority in the future. Dems have 2-years to show the American people that the government can and should work for the people. With the filibuster in place, Americans will continue to believe that government doesn’t work and we should just elect another Trump and blow the whole mess up.

      1. Even if the Democrats pass legislation that the people want, it will take longer than a year and a half to be fully implemented.

        Even if they prove that government works by passing legislation, that doesn’t mean people will vote for them or for their own interests in the future.

        The economy worked quite well under Clinton where a deficit was turned into a surplus. We were also on the same trend under Obama plus the regulations that were made to protect us consumers of products and the air, water and land protections didn’t ensure Democrats continuing on in 2016.

        1. After the two Clinton terms, Gore won the popular vote in 2000. And after two Obama terms, Hillary won the popular vote in 2016 — though the popular vote in both elections was much closer than it should’ve been, had the candidates run more competent campaigns.

          Still, you can thank the anachronistic, anti-democratic electoral college for Dubya and Trump.

          The Grand Old Party would’ve gone the way of the Whigs by now, were it not for the anti-democratic features of US government.

      2. Tired of fearing what “might happen” while watching what is happening. Things will never change unless something changes. Democrats need to grow a spine and some long sharp teeth..

    2. Thank you, counsellor, I (think) I agree – though it doesn’t take up a lot of my time. But when we look at it it seems to be obviously armed at minority voting and rights, helping large corps dodge taxes,etc. – how DO these people sleep at night?
      It is aimed at Democrat judges and policies the US population (by survey) seem to support.
      That Manchin is a weird guy – not my kind of guy – but then I don’t live in WV.

      D.A., J.D.
      NYC
      https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2020/06/10/photos-of-readers-93/

  7. Intuitively, laws should be passed by a simple majority. Having a rule in place that makes it more difficult for a legislature to carry out its job is intuitively questionable, at best. One has to wonder in this increasingly unstable political environment that removing those handicaps to legislation is a good thing. Just as easy as it is to put pro-science, rational, reasonable men and women in office (yeah, I know, it isn’t), it’s much easier for that pendulum to swing back in the direction of putting truly dangerous people back in power. Do we want to make it easier for anti-vaxxers if they make it to Congress? I don’t know. This isn’t an easy call by any stretch of the imagination.

    The other question is whether we really have a filibuster that can be enforced by anyone other than Congress. I’m an attorney. If there are any other attorneys reading this, please respond to this post because I would like to know your thoughts.

    We deal with hypothetical problems in the legal profession all the time. From the first day we’re in law school to working through cases and fact patterns all throughout our careers, we’re asking counterfactual questions to figure out whether the presence or absence of a certain fact/condition/change in interpretation would change the outcome.

    *What if* the House and Senate passed a bill by a simple majority under the current rules. Assume that the rules and procedures of the Senate failed to prevent the bill from getting to the President’s desk and he signed it (unlikely, but this is a hypothetical question). Does the bill become law?

    Courts try to avoid answering questions like this because they do not want to implicate the legal system in matters that are so fundamentally at the core of the political process that they (often rightly) believe it would jeopardize the Court’s legitimacy. In this case, however, they couldn’t avoid answering the question because fundamentally the Court must decide whether the law applies or doesn’t apply to litigants. The U.S. District Court and whatever Court of Appeals heard the case would issue a decision that would almost certainly go to the U.S. Supreme Court, if the matter didn’t immediately bypass the Court of Appeals.

    I think judges would be hard pressed to give any effect to the rules of the legislative filibuster because it isn’t in the Constitution. Even if you aren’t a textualist (though 90% of all decisions at least start with something akin to a textual approach), it’s a stretch to come up with a way to justify a decision that binds the Senate to procedural rules that exist outside of the Constitution and have not one iota of textual support in the Constitution.

    1. I’m not an attorney but am a solicitor across the Pond. Your idea of testing the Constitution to destruction is indeed intriguing. Could such a situation be engineered. Would like to hear Ken Kukec on this one.

  8. the purpose of the fillibuster is to prolong debate until the Senate, as a deliberative body, decides that more debate is not helpful. So, the fillibuster should be in place as long as Senators are debating. That is, a 2/3 (or 2/5) vote of ALL SENATORS PRESENT to end debate is reasonable, provided those senators are debating. Voting against cloture without being present and without offering any discussion, as happens now, is just partisan obstruction, pure and simple. I think this would be strengthening, not weaking, fillisbuster. I wonder if Manchin (the Manchin-rian candidate?) would agree. I doubt it.

  9. At this point I no longer think it matters. I think this country is in a political death spiral that can’t be fixed with patchwork solutions like fixing the filibuster. And after 40 years of weaponized rhetoric, it’s unlikely that we could create a mandate to start over.

    1. I simply look at who funded Manchin and his past behavior. It’s nothing to do with bipartisanship, but about protecting his and his donors class interests. His comment on his daughter raising the EpiPen price is telling…paraphrasing..”that maybe the price hike would increase awareness that all prescriptions were too expensive” . Notice the abstraction and deflection of responsibility. ” I may ge personally profiting from it, but geez, it’s a bad law and should be changed though I vote against its change”

  10. I think Manchin’s idea of bipartisanship is naïve in the extreme because Republicans are not dealing in good faith. Remember the meeting they had during Obama’s first inauguration where they agreed to oppose EVERYTHING, in hopes of making him a one-term President?

    And since then, it’s been all Lucy-with-the football for them. They offered amendments to the COVID rescue bill which were accepted and incorporated, and the all STILL voted against it. They will not support anything that might look like a “win” for the Dems, no matter how many of their constituents support it.

    I fear that the next election that the Republicans win will be the last legitimate election we ever have in this country. They let power get away from them the last time, and they are not about to let that happen again.

    Manchin (and Sinema, too) avoid milieu where they have to answer questions. Manchin writes columns, but he’s NEVER being interviewed, where he could be asked to support his claim that Republicans are dealing in good faith. McConnell has already said that no Republican will support an infrastructure bill, and several Republicans have already gone on record defining infrastructure as a very small piece of what’s being proposed, smaller even than what THEY THEMSELVES had defined before.

    I have said this before: the most important difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals see empathy as a skill and conservatives see empathy as a weakness. Republicans have no desire to help anyone but their true constituency, the 1%. They did that in 2017. The rest of us can go pound sand. They will couch their opposition in reasonable-sounding arguments like “the deficit”, or “that doesn’t belong in an infrastructure bill”, but in the end, no matter what concessions are made by Dems, it will still be Lucy-with-the-football.

    L

    1. Aren’t Manchin and Sinema just trying to stay in power in relatively red districts? They have to be seen as not too Democrat. They are just cloaking their position by bipartisanship virtue signaling.

      1. Especially Manchin. Sinema’s Arizona is trending purple, but West Virginia went for Trump in 2020 by damn near 40 points.

        Better to placate Manchin (even if he is playing the prima donna) then to have him declare himself an Independent and start caucusing with the Republicans, thereby swinging the senate — or, worse, to have him replaced eventually by a Republican clone of W. Va.’s junior senator, Shelly Moore Capita.

        Still, I’m disappointed in Manchin. I knew he was the senate’s most conservative Democrat, but I thought he’d be a stronger Party man, someone whose vote could be counted on in a crunch.

        1. There is a fast moving process of elimination going on that might improve the count for dems in the future. It is now certain and without a doubt that Matt Gaetz will not be around in the house much longer. His old buddy Greenberg is flippiing on him according to all reports on MSNBC. Gaetz was a good old buddy of Trump’s and turns out nearly as sleezy as Trump. Now if Jordon would follow suit.

  11. I think they should dump the filibuster. Its intent was to foster bipartisanship but the GOP have shown virtually no interest in doing that. Even the non-Trump GOP politicians don’t really seem interested in Biden’s agenda.

    Another argument against eliminating the filibuster is that it will make it easier for the GOP to pass their own legislation whenever they are back in power, which might be as soon as 2022. This is worrisome but I think the GOP have demonstrated over and over again that the optimal strategy is to take advantage when you can and forget about the future. I’m not saying the Dems should emulate the GOP in all things but yes for this one.

    Besides, I am not so sure history will predict the future in 2022. The GOP are still beholden to Trump and he’s still a loser and political career wrecker. He will make sure that only the most Trumpy candidate wins each GOP primary and the Dems will have a good chance of painting them as the crazy loons they are likely to be.

    Of course, Manchin and Sinema are standing in the way of eliminating the filibuster so all this is apparently moot. Sigh.

  12. I think that this is a purely tactical move by the Democrats to take full advantage of their minimal majority. As such, I think it is very short-sighted on their part. It does remind me of Gore Vidal’s trenchant observation that in politics there are no ends, only means (from The Best Man). Whatever the Dems do today legislatively can be undone tomorrow. Of more concern to me than parliamentary tactics is that they seem desperate to never let the Republicans regain power, seem hellbent on flooding the country with illegal aliens, and then removing barriers to them voting (on the assumption, to be proved, that they would vote Democratic). I fear that the lack of bipartisanship is merely a symptom of a turn against pluralism.

      1. One good question and no answers. The republican party is generally dead, they just have not stopped breathing yet. They have no agenda because they are all still hiding up Trumps rear end. All they do now is scam their own supporters with the on-line donations. How do you increase you voters doing that? Trump will not be around for 2024. He will likely be in prison and at the very least broke from the lawsuits. For the republican party there is no after Trump. They have nothing. Watch for what happens with the NRA bankruptcy trial going on in Texas. It could just be the end of the NRA. Who would have thought.

    1. Did I miss the policy white paper from the Democrats that suggests removing the requirement that one be a citizen to vote?

      1. Ummm, you don’t necessarily need to be a citizen to vote.
        Our last (in the sense “previous”) independence vote was done on residence qualification, not statehood, ethnicity, property ownership or possession of a penis (other qualification criteria we have used in the past. Within living memory, mostly.)
        Boy did that piss off the people who wanted to decide the future of a place they didn’t – at that time – inhabit. Many virtue-signalling bubbles pricked.

    2. Republicans, as it stands now, never WOULD regain power if elections become truly free and fair.

      Instead of offering policy proposals that might appeal to more voters, they are relying on gerrymandering and voter suppression to win elections. They couldn’t even be bothered to construct a platform for the last election; it was “whatever Trump wants”.

      The country is becoming more diverse. The population is concentrating more in urban areas. The total votes from Democrats and Democratic leaners outnumber those cast by Republicans and Republican leaners, and yet Republicans continue to maintain majorities in State houses. Despite their protestations, the reality is that blue states contribute more and red states take more Federal money.

      There is a large structural advantage for smaller states in terms of representation. Joe Manchin and others who support that defend it by saying that it gives smaller states a better voice. But a question always arises for me about that: If more and more people concentrate in urban and exurban areas, and fewer and fewer people live in rural areas, at what point does minoritarian rule become unacceptable? Do you really expect large majorities of citizens to always roll over and meekly accept what is handed to them?

      I have heard rural people say that they don’t want their lives run by “coastal elites”. OK, fine. Why should my life be run by a bunch of ignorant, superstitious, knuckle-dragging stupid people?

      L

  13. I think eliminating the filibuster is likely to reduce polarization in politics. Currently, it is the best interest of politicians and activists to appeal to their extremes knowing that their idiocy will be reined in by the filibuster.

    If politicians can actually enact laws, they will be forced to advocate for laws that are good for the country and generally popular. If they pass idiocy, they will lose at the next election. There might be some yoyoing between extremes but I think it will lead to more moderate politicians and bipartisanship.

    What we are doing is not working. I think that our system of check and balances, elections and the supreme court will prevent things from going too extreme.

  14. I think, Jerry, that to get a good feel on this question you should hold an on-line poll. All of your readers should have a chance to answer it!

    But then you should not release the results of that poll until after I decide it’s okay for you to do that.

    What does everyone think – does that sound like a fair and legitimate process?

    Feel free to respond to this post with your opinion, but I will not consider any of them until a later date of my choosing, which may be never.

    1. But then you should not release the results of that poll until after I decide it’s okay for you to do that.

      What does everyone think – does that sound like a fair and legitimate process?

      I note that you will not know what the results of the poll would be at the time you choose to release the results.
      Which is a nice reminder that drafting legislation to achieve what the person drafting the legislation wants isn’t as simple as it sounds.
      Some people learn this by programming computers to do what you tell them to, not necessarily what you wanted them to do. Other people recognise this as a Humphrey-ism.

        1. Dunno that I’d go that far. The constitution is silent on the issue, and the US senate is certainly free under Article I to conduct itself according to such rules of practice and procedure as it sees fit. Consequently I think the appropriate way to characterize the filibuster is as “extra-constitutional.”

          The senate is as free to abandon the filibuster as it was to adopt it in the first place. The constitution has no role to play in that decision.

          1. The constitution is silent on the issue,

            I can almost hear Nigel Hawthorn intoning that.

  15. Many of the posters here seem to believe that the purpose of our national government is to adopt policies that a simple majority of the American people might want at any given time, as determined by some poll or survey somebody, usually with a vested interest, has constructed. Well, spoiler alert, it’s not. Most aspects of our lives are determined by the circumstances we encounter and the support or resistance we encounter in our communities. The national government needs to concentrate on issues that are external to our country, conflicts among states, and internal challenges that have broad, sustained support across the country and that are the constitutional responsibility of the national government. It’s very difficult for a national government to effectively solve problems by adopting the same rules for Los Angeles and Back Of Beyond Alaska. The same rules for things like transit systems and tavern bathrooms probably won’t work in those different environments and cultures so, absent activities protected by the 14th amendment, the national government should leave those issues to local communities. It may seem “anti-democratic” to allow Alaskans to adopt rules that the majority of Americans would dislike but perhaps the social fabric in our country is still strong enough to allow people to live their lives without having the folks in Washington DC try to force a culture of the moment on each of us. So sayth I on this lovely afternoon in the great Pacific NW. Time to go enjoy the sun.

    1. I generally take the opposing view. The idea that each state needs to run itself by its own rules might have been reasonable in 1776 but it isn’t now. In many ways, the divisions we have now at the national level have been created by having different rules in each state. There’s so much inefficiency in our republic. Right now, many states run by Republicans are busy passing laws that affect voting. Why do we need so many different rules for something as basic as voting? Each one must be fought by a team of lawyers. Once they are done, the differences across states has to be decided by the Supreme Court. We also have artificial problems due to differences between states on such things a marijuana and social policies. We cross state lines and have to worry about whether we can turn right on a red light. And don’t get me started on gun laws. What rules do Alaskans need that are somehow incompatible with life in the other states? Or vice-versa?

      1. Why do we need so many different rules for something as basic as voting?

        Doh. To stop the wrong people from voting. Isn’t that clear?
        Of course, who the “wrong people” are might mean different things in different places, down to caring about which side of the street you live on. As was obvious in the recent election, all right-thinking patriotic Americans were going to vote for Trump, so rules to stop voting by non-right-thinking, unpatriotic, non-Americans (who might not vote for Trump) were (and remain) absolutely necessary.
        Eventually, American democracy will approach it’s Greek exemplar, and stop half the population from voting from voting for having the wrong external sexual anatomy, and at least half of the rest for being the property of the voters. Then they can get down to re-introducing a requirement to own property within the constituency, so that you can vote early, and often, and legally.

      2. So I live in a state that legalized early abortion before Roe V. Wade. If we had had a national law on abortion at the time, abortion would very likely have been illegal. If the Supremes change their ruling, abortion is still legal in my state no matter who controls Congress. I like that. And I like the fact that, given Senate rules, it would be very hard for abortion opponents to pass a national anti-abortion law. My state also approved medical marijuana almost twenty years ago and recreational marijuana several years ago, by initiative, in conflict with our national laws. I like our independent spirit and would hate to live in a state that just accepted whatever the folks in DC decide about how and what we can eat, drink and smoke. Power does corrupt and the more we give our power to control our own lives over to professional politicians and overeducated partisan staff, well, we will rue that day. History abounds with lessons from nations that tried to control everything from one center. Corrupt officials and systems are almost always part of the downfall story. The stronger the provinces are when the corrupt center disintegrates, the better the inhabitants can survive and rebuild their lives and communities. So I like a stronger local control model than might be true for you.

  16. I do think the filibuster, or at least the virtual one , should be abandoned. Absolutely.
    The problem is not so much the filibuster, but the profoundly undemocratic nature of the Senate.
    There are some theoretical solutions or theoretical ways to reduce this, without just abolishing the Senate altogether .
    Make the Senate more equitable: at present a Senate vote in WY has over 70 times the weight of a vote in CA. I understand that 2 senators per state was meant to protect the smaller states, but a 70 times appears unreasonable. Who protects the larger states? Maybe all states with less than , say , 2 million inhabitants should get only one senator and those over 10 million three?
    Or reduce the power of the Senate. A profoundly undemocratic body as the Senate should not wield such wide ranging powers. Should eg. the Senate instead of the House decide on SC justices?
    I know these changes would need overwhelming support, so I do not hold my breath.

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