Last week, 40 chambers of commerce from across the Commonwealth sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-PA, seeking clarification on his position regarding potential changes to the U.S. Senate’s long-held operating procedures, specifically as it pertains to the chamber’s filibuster rule. The filibuster rule is a time-honored measure, historically protected by both parties, and designed to respect the rights of the minority party.
Under the Senate’s rules for parliamentary procedure, any senator or group of senators can attempt to delay or block a vote on a bill through extended debate, more commonly known as a filibuster. In order to stop a filibuster, 60 votes are needed – requiring a supermajority to move bills out of the chamber. Currently, Democrats and Republicans hold an equal number of seats in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote. With Democrats holding a slim majority in the Senate, some within their caucus have advocated to reform or eliminate the filibuster rule in order to fast-track several far left-leaning proposals, most notably the PRO Act – which would tilt the balance of workplace laws in favor of Big Labor.
In the letter, the coalition of chambers noted that in 2017 – when Republicans controlled the White House and held majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate – Sen. Casey was among a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators urging for preservation of “existing rules, practices, and traditions” and pushing back on calls to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. However, in a recent interview with an affiliate of NPR, he appears to have changed his stance and said that he believes the filibuster rule should change.
The chambers requested Sen. Casey to clarify his position on the filibuster rule and welcomed the opportunity to discuss potential reforms to Senate operating rules.