Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced her support for ending the filibuster on Thursday. She is the latest Democratic senator to endorse allowing the Senate to pass legislation by a simple 50 vote majority, rather than the current 60 vote threshold needed to end a filibuster.
“I’ve made up my mind,” Smith tweeted Friday morning. “We need to move this country forward, and that’s why I’ve decided to come out in support of eliminating the filibuster.”
Smith’s announcement, first reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, comes after the House of Representatives passed a sweeping voting rights, campaign finance and ethics reform bill that is the top priority for Democrats in both chambers.
The voting rights reforms in the bill, which is called the For The People Act, would set a national standard for voter access by mandating that states adopt automatic and same-day voter registration as well as no-excuse absentee voting, and provide at least 15 days of early voting, among many other provisions. The bill would also limit voter restrictions like voter identification and voter roll purges.
Smith’s announcement of her support for ending the filibuster follows that of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s senior senator, who came out strongly in favor of ending it just before the House passed the For The People Act on Wednesday.
The For The People Act is certain to face a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate. No Republican voted for it in the House and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called it both a “power grab” and “socialism.” The bill would need to attract 10 Republican votes to clear a filibuster, a prospect that is highly unlikely. That means the bill is a dead letter unless Democrats end or alter the Senate’s filibuster rules.
There are a number of other bills that are a part of President Joe Biden’s agenda that are likely to meet their end at the hands of Republican-led filibusters in the Senate. Whether or not Democrats address the filibuster will determine whether a large part of the president’s agenda can be enacted into law.