The Short Version: Senate Filibuster, Stay Or Go?
The point of it all is to break down the headlines, determine why an issue is important, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story. Last week Cleo looked at the headlines, at presidential pardons, and asked whether or not Trump can legally pardon himself. This week, her focus is on the senate filibuster. Trump wants it gone.
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Against the backdrop of a truly chaotic week in policymaking in which three versions of Republican health care plans failed, President Trump fired his chief of staff and may have banned transgendered people from serving in the military, and the new White House communications director gave a—um—colorful interview, one important debate understandably didn’t get the attention it needs.
President Trump wants to get rid of the Senate filibuster.
Why is it important?
A piece of legislation or a confirmation only needs more than half of the Senate to pass (usually 51 Senators). But Senators are allowed to extend the debate before a vote indefinitely, unless two-thirds of the Senate (usually 60 Senators) votes to end it. The act of delaying a vote indefinitely in order to slow or stop it is called a filibuster.
In other words, you only need 51 votes for a Senate decision, but you need 60 votes to get to decide at all.
Since the 1840s, when the filibuster began to evolve into a more powerful legislative tool, both parties have threatened to abolish it. We call this the “nuclear option.” The nuclear option is a problem and a solution for both parties at different times—both benefit from filibuster rules when they are a minority in the Senate, and both benefit from the way 60 votes requires the Senate to be a generally moderate, consensus-seeking body.
Why “The Short Version” on TIO:
Over nine years ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)
And now, this weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance.
“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist.
Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.
More about Cleo Constantine Abram:
Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.
Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.
Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.
She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.
Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.
Recently, Cleo returned to school, studying video storytelling at Columbia Journalism School.
Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.
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