Democrats will continue to control the US Senate after Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was projected on Saturday to win reelection. Whatever the outcome of the December 6 runoff in Georgia, Democrats will have fifty votes in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote when needed.
This news is far more consequential than it may seem.
The “filibuster” is a rule requiring sixty votes in the Senate to pass legislation. It was suspended on a simple majority vote by Democrats in 2012 to confirm then-President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees and again in 2017 by Republicans to confirm then-President Donald Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court.
President Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have each called for suspending it again to pass legislation codifying abortion regardless of states’ objections or legislation. There have been similar calls in support of the so-called Equality Act, which would codify LGBTQ rights with no protections for religious freedom.
Two Democratic senators—Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)—have refused to suspend the filibuster in the past. If Democrats win the Georgia runoff, they will be one vote from doing so even over the objections of both.