During a Tuesday morning press conference in Birmingham, Senator Luther Strange announced that he has decided to take his name off of a letter he signed in April expressing his support for keeping the filibuster rule. Strange announced that upon returning to Washington, he will submit a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer withdrawing his support for the filibuster rule.
The filibuster rule has been used in the senate for years as a stalling tactic. If invoked, the rule requires a 60 vote majority to stop. This serves as a major barrier to Republicans, who only hold 52 seats in the senate – just shy of enough votes to be able to stop a Democratic filibuster. The implications of the filibuster rule were felt severely by Republicans during the health care vote this summer. That is one reason why Strange has decided to withdraw his support.
The letter to McConnell and Schumer states in part:
“I respectfully withdraw my signature from the aforementioned letter and instead make a declaration that it is necessary for Republican Senate Leadership to work to change the filibuster rule, as President Trump has requested, and give the American people’s Senators the opportunity to debate on any legislation that can receive a simple majority vote.”
Strange believes this is a step toward being able to get things done in Washington, especially given the obstructionism seen from both Democrats and Republicans. Without the filibuster, Republicans can potentially pass legislation regarding health care, tax reform, immigration, and infrastructure.
Strange’s decision marks a dramatic split from Mitch McConnell, who has been vocal in his support of both Strange and the filibuster. With this move, Strange seems to be aligning himself more closely with the Trump Administration’s agenda as opposed to the agenda of the Senate insiders.