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Date TimeSeptember 09, 2019
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Watch John Oliver try to convince you its time to kill the filibuster. Its very dramatic
Democratic presidential hopefuls are making "big promises about the fabulous bills candidates will sign when they're elected," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. But they probably won't, "because they'd have to go through the Senate," which is currently "a giant nonfunctioning roadblock." The Senate's "low level of production is likely thanks to one incredibly annoying legislative tool — not actually this tool," he said, showing a photo of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), "although he is certainly at fault. I'm referring to the filibuster." The filibuster, or "any tactic aimed at blocking a measure by preventing it from coming to a vote," has "often been presented in TV and movies as a heroic act, like when Jimmy Stewart talked himself to exhaustion in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," but "the modern filibuster is nothing like the Jimmy Stewart version," Oliver said. "It's become an overused tool of obstruction." Because any legislation now needs 60 votes to pass, he said, "theoretically, senators from the 21 least populated states, representing just 11 percent of Americans, could overrule everyone else. Which seems pretty extreme." "To recap the main arguments in favor of the filibuster: We've always had it (no, we haven't); it enables debate (no, it doesn't); it protects minorities (not the ones you're thinking of); it encourages bipartisanship (not even close)," Oliver said. "It has become so difficult to pass a law, the big issues of our day are now being handled by other branches of the government," notably via executive action or court rulings. Killing the filibuster "is undeniably a gamble," since your side won't always have power, "but personally, I have come around to thinking it is a risk worth taking," he said. "The Senate is supposed to address America's problems, and the filibuster is making it basically impossible for them to do that." To convince risk-averse skeptics, Oliver turned to "the exact kind of big, stupid speech that I hate." Watch him "filibuster the filibuster" below (if you don't mind NSFW language).


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