Schiff is Targeting the Filibuster Again 

Benjamin Clapp /
Benjamin Clapp /

The liberal playbook clearly outlines the rules of the game. If something gets in the way of the progressive agenda, remove it so outlandish and unpopular legislation can be passed. The same party that has repeatedly called for court-stacking to remove Constitutional obstacles on their fast track to socialism has, once again, called for removing the filibuster. 

The filibuster is a parliamentary procedure used in the Senate to delay or block the passage of legislation or the confirmation of appointments. Established in the 1850s, it allows a senator or a group of senators to speak for an extended period to prevent a vote on a particular bill or nomination. The term “filibuster” comes from a Dutch word meaning “pirate” or “freebooter,” and it was initially used to describe lawmakers who would hijack the legislative process. 

In the Senate, most bills and nominations require a 60-vote majority to end debate and proceed to a final vote. This threshold is known as the “cloture” vote. If senators choose to filibuster, they can continue to speak for as long as they wish, effectively preventing the Senate from moving forward on the matter at hand. Senators do not have to continuously speak during a filibuster. Instead, they can signal their intent to filibuster, and if the 60-vote threshold is not met, the debate will continue indefinitely. 

The filibuster has been a controversial aspect of the Senate’s rules and has both supporters and opponents. Advocates argue that the filibuster protects minority rights and fosters compromise, forcing lawmakers to work together across party lines. On the other hand, critics contend that the filibuster leads to gridlock and prevents important legislation from passing, 

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been vocal in his opposition to the filibuster. His goal is to remove roadblocks that interfere with the progressive agenda so that policies can be passed without restraint, including climate change and abortion legislation. 

Schiff believes that removing the filibuster roadblock will allow the progressive agenda to “move aggressively forward.” 

“If we’re successful in doing away with [the filibuster], we can reestablish reproductive freedom, we can protect our democracy, and we can attack climate change even more vigorously, just as we did the last few years,” Schiff said. 

While it takes sixty votes to pass legislation, it only takes fifty votes to remove the filibuster. Schiff, who said that removing the filibuster is his number one priority in 2024, faces opposition from both sides of the aisle, and getting those fifty votes continues to be challenging. 

Centrist Democrats, such as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and now Independent Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, feel that the filibuster forces bipartisanship. With Democrats holding only the slimmest of majorities and two of his own against him, it’s unlikely that Schiff will succeed in removing the procedural action. 

Republicans and moderate Democrats understand that extreme measures, such as court-stacking and removing the filibuster, only benefit the party in power. Those with foresight envision a future where the House and Senate flip, and the opposing party can undo past legislation and create their own. When the House and Senate flip again, the process will repeat. Each party will undo the sweeping policies of the party before. 

Schiff, however, is so desperate to push the progressive agenda forward that he is willing to chance “dramatic swings in policy.” Schiff believes that while polling shows that Americans from both parties oppose polarized measures, they will love sweeping progressive policies. 

He predicts that once the extremists’ agenda is passed, Republicans will try to take the country “aggressively backward” and be the “shortest majority in history.” 

But Schiff needs to consider his own political future before vowing to take on the filibuster. His victory in the upcoming California Senate race in 2024 is anything but assured. In California primaries, only the top two candidates move forward to a general election, regardless of their party. While Schiff has money to throw at his campaign, his opponents hold a slight lead over him in polling.  

His recent censure for his role in the Trump-Russian collusion hoax isn’t helping his chances for reelection, though Schiff claims that many Republicans apologized to him in private for the “absurdity” of what they were doing. 

While Schiff isn’t alone in his desire to remove checks and balances from Senate proceedings, he is one of the most verbal about the end goal of doing so. He understands that eliminating opposition is the only way to force extremist and largely unpopular policies on Americans. 

In other countries, it’s called a dictatorship. In America, it’s called liberalism. And for lawmakers like Adam Schiff, it’s the only way to impose the will of the few on the lives of the many.