Filibusters can either be the best or worst things that occur in Congress, depending on your party, but Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is now making a strong push to limit the blocking of executive branch nominations, a move that some say could result in further limitations on the filibuster in the future.
Without filibuster power Congress could either be a blessing or a curse, but here are six pieces of legislation that surely would have become laws had it not been for the filibuster.
1. The Buffett Rule
The Buffett rule was proposed in 2011 and was a bill that would have required any household bringing in more than $1 million to pay a minimum of 30% in taxes. The bill got 51 votes and only one Democrat, Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), voted against the measure. The rule was a good idea in principle, and who knows how it would have actually panned out if it had been signed into law, but having middle-income and wealthy individuals paying similar percentages of taxes makes sense.
2. DREAM Act
Ah, a bill that for many has represented one of the most frustrating filibusters of the last few years. The DREAM Act was blocked both in 2010 and 2011 by a Republican filibuster. Two years later, immigration reform is once more is progressing slowly. And once more, it's being stalled by Republicans as they attempt to perfect the bill, in turn complicating an already complex process.
3. Paycheck Fairness Act
This measure would have allowed women to determine income disparities between their salaries and those of their male counterparts without being retaliated against by their employers. Employers would also have to prove that any differences in salaries were not gender related. The bill passed in the House but failed in the Senate and then was filibustered again in June. With only a small percentage of women currently serving in Congress, one cannot help but wonder if this bill would have fared better if there were a balance in gender.
4. DISCLOSE Act
The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act was a measure first introduced in 2010 and required that corporations, unions, super PACs, and other organizations report any campaign expenditures equal to or exceeding $10,000 within 24 hours. While this could have greatly affected elections, it was fillibustered twice by the GOP.
5. Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act
This bill was proposed to compensate senior citizens that did not receive their "Cost of Living Adjustment" (COLA) in 2011 due to Congress' lack of action (lazy Congress...no surprise here). The act would have distributed a $250 tax credit to all Social Security recipients. However, this too was filibustered and although $250 is not much, it would have been a nice gesture from a Congress that hasn't been able to get much of anything done.
6. American Jobs Act
The American Jobs Act was a megabill that would have cut payroll taxes in half for 98% of businesses, prevented an estimated 280,000 teacher layoffs, extended unemployment benefits, expanded job opportunities, and much more. It received only 50 votes which did not save it from the filibuster. Once more, absolutely nothing got done.