While it may seem a strange way to conduct business, the filibuster within the Senate has existed as a procedure since 1806. It originated seemingly accidentally as an unforeseen consequence of a simple rules change, and has in one form or another regulated the legislative process ever since.
It has a much longer history; the first recorded filibuster was by Cato in the Roman Senate, opposing one of Caesar’s proposals in 60 B.C. However, the weight of tradition alone is insufficient to maintain this tool; one of McConnell’s unlauded triumphs was its preservation in the rules of the present Congress by passive opposition to the transfer of Senate leadership until language defining and guaranteeing it was inserted into the agreement. Otherwise, it may have been ended immediately with the convening of the new Senate — and it may well be again in 2022.
What is for us to consider rather is whether this tool is valuable enough to preserve, or instead fully deserves to be discarded as a relic of a long-outmoded past.(more…)