The case against Democrats nuking the filibuster

But it’s also worth considering what this would mean both in the near term and, potentially, just a few short years. The Democrats’ narrow Senate majority provides some impetus for nuking the filibuster, because of the sheer number of GOP votes that would be needed for most legislation: It’s a lot easier to pick off four votes if you have a 56-44 majority than it is to pick off 10 in a 50-50 Senate. It’s very easy to see the Senate descending into one of its most gridlocked periods in an era already marked by gridlock.

That 50-50 split, however, might also negate much benefit from getting rid of the filibuster. Yes, they could pass everything with 50 votes given Vice President Harris will break ties. But if Republicans vote in unison, Democrats could afford precisely zero defections. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) comes from one of the reddest states in the country, and Democrats could also struggle to win votes from more moderate senators like Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), or others who face reelection in tough states, like Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

Manchin in particular looms as a tough vote for anything amounting to a truly bold, left-leaning agenda. On top of that, Democrats have few votes to spare in the House, with just a 10-seat majority — plenty of representatives are like Manchin and Tester, answering to conservative constituencies — meaning there will remain obstacles to big change, even within the party.