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Friday, February 5, 2021

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer, Majority Leader

322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader Chuck Schumer,

Voters across the country have made their voices heard loud and clear, culminating in the
strong message that was recently delivered in Georgia. People want a government that works
for them, not just the wealthy, well-connected, and entrenched special interest groups. They are
sick and tired of the gridlock and dysfunction that is keeping the system rigged against them and
their families and is preventing progress on the many critical issues facing our nation.

The results of this election have unlocked the door to change, but another clear obstacle
remains: the rules of the United States Senate that allow a partisan minority to block legislation
and will prevent the Senate from governing and delivering on the promises they made to voters
if they are left in place.

To be clear, the filibuster was never intended to be used and abused the way it has been over
the past decade. Despite what some will claim, the filibuster isn’t in the Constitution. The
framers were explicitly trying to avoid supermajority requirements for legislation, and until
recently, the filibuster was only very rarely used to block ordinary legislation supported by the
majority of senators. The notable exception, of course, was its deplorable use as a tool to block
civil rights, voting rights, and anti-lynching bills, which is why President Barack Obama correctly
referred to it as a “Jim Crow relic” that should be eliminated if it stands in the way of securing the
rights of every American.

Even those of us who have supported the filibuster in the past now see clearly that it has
become something very different in recent years. If the filibuster was ever effective in promoting
bipartisanship and compromise, that is clearly no longer the case as use of the filibuster has
skyrocketed while bipartisanship and consensus has plummeted. The filibuster has become a
weapon of pure partisan gridlock and its abuse is a big part of what has broken the Senate.

That is why we are reaching out on behalf of our millions of members across the country to call
on Senate Democrats to move quickly to fix the broken Senate and eliminate the filibuster as a
tool that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell can use to nullify the results of the election
and block progress on popular legislation supported by a majority of senators and a majority of
the American people.

This would not be a radical step, but a pragmatic response to gridlock and obstruction to help
senators deliver for their constituents. Senate rules have been changed many times over the
years. In 2013, the Senate took some initial steps to end the partisan blockade of President
Obama’s nominees. And just since 2017, the Republican majority eliminated the filibuster on
Supreme Court nominees in order to confirm President Trump’s picks, and then changed the
rules again to reduce the debate time for other nominees, including District Court judges
appointed to lifetime terms. The Republican majority also made use of the budget reconciliation
process, first used in 1980, to pass their tax bill with a simple majority. And most recently, they

changed the so-called “McConnell rule” to advance President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee
just weeks before an election after refusing to advance President Obama’s nominee during the
final year of his term.

We urge Senate Democrats, under your leadership, to take speedy action to fix the broken
Senate and make progress possible by changing the rules to end the gridlock and dysfunction.
The best way to restore a functioning Senate is to eliminate the filibuster as a weapon the
minority can use to block an agenda that a majority of Americans have just embraced at the
ballot box.

Thank you.


Fix Our Senate

Stand Up America
Be a Hero Fund
Sunrise Movement
Demand Justice
MoveOn Civic Action
Communications Workers of America
Center for Popular Democracy
Working Families Party
Our Revolution
Friends of the Earth
Public Citizen
Common Cause
March For Our Lives
Voto Latino
Data for Progress
We Testify
Evergreen Action
Just Democracy
Common Defense
51 for 51
America’s Voice
Campaign For America’s Future
Daily Kos
Roots Action
Democracy Initiative
United We Dream

Progressive Turnout Project
New American Leaders Action Fund
Earth Action, Inc.
Civic Ventures
Young Invincibles
Rachel Carson Council
Take Back the Court
One Fair Wage
Newtown Action Alliance
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
20/20 Vision
ActionAid USA
Mainers for Accountable Leadership
People's Parity Project
Liberty Tree Foundation
Oil Change U.S.
Climate Crisis Policy
Clean Elections Texas
350 Butte County (CA)
RepresentUs New Mexico
Maine People’s Alliance
Peoples Climate Movement - NY
Broward for Progress
Colorado Businesses for a Livable Climate
Colorado Democratic Party Energy & Environment Initiative
Call to Action Colorado

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