If the Democrats get rid of the filibuster to pass voting rights can the next congress repeal these voting rights with a simple majority?

Targeting State Restrictions, House Passes Landmark Voting Rights Expansion


5 Answers 5


If the Democrats get rid of the filibuster to pass voting rights can the next congress repeal these voting rights with a simple majority?

The next Congress? Probably not. The next Congress runs from January 2023 to January 2025, during which Biden will still be President. Even assuming the Republicans win both houses of the legislature, they'll need to have a 2/3 majority in both houses to override a presidential veto. That would require that the Republicans win a net of seventeen seats in the 2022 senatorial elections.

Given that Democrats currently hold only 14 of the 34 Senate seats that will be contested in the 2022 elections, and given that 10 of those 14 seats are very safe seats, the likelihood that Republicans will achieve a veto-proof majority in the Senate in the next Congress is essentially impossible.

  • 2
    To whomever tried to change my use of "senatorial elections" to "congressional elections", I meant what I wrote. While the term "congressional elections" sometimes is used to describe elections for both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is typically used to describe only the elections for the House of Representatives. As there is no filibuster rule in the House of Representatives, the only elections of concern are those for the US Senate. Mar 27, 2021 at 0:39
  • I find myself wondering what insidious nonsense they could do with a bare majority that wouldn't repeal it outright but damage it to the point where enforcement fails.
    – Joshua
    Mar 27, 2021 at 2:19
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    Right. The only way this works out is if they get a majority in both Houses and win the Presidency. Plus several Republicans have stated that, if the law passes, they will no longer be able to win and thus will not win a majority.
    – trlkly
    Mar 27, 2021 at 5:03
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    @Joshua: Very little. About all they can do is tie it to some important piece of legislation, like the budget or NDAA, and then force Biden to veto it. This could result in a government shutdown (remember those?), but there is simply no provision under the US Constitution for Congress to enact anything without either a presidential signature or a veto override (or, rarely, the president ignoring the bill, which makes it become law automatically after ten days, Sundays excepted).
    – Kevin
    Mar 27, 2021 at 6:47
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    It doesn't seem particularly useful to focus so heavily on the very next Congress rather than just addressing what any future Congress can do. It seems quite unlikely that the asker cares specifically about the 2023 Congress specifically as opposed to the next Congress where Republicans have majority decision-making power. Even if they did care specifically about the former, the latter makes for a much more useful answer (and nothing stops an answer from addressing both) that would address the obvious variants like "what about the 2025 Congress" or what if this happens a few years from now.
    – NotThatGuy
    Mar 27, 2021 at 16:43

Yes, they can because that is how congress works, any bill passed by a simple majority can be repealed by a simple majority.

All bills can be passed with a simple majority, the filibuster has nothing to do with passing a bill. It is just a procedure that is designed to hold up the vote on a bill by using debate. The problem is with the modern filibuster there is no actual debate that is happening.

If the filibuster was working as designed senators would be debating on the floor until the filibuster is resolved and this would prevent other work from happening during this time. The filibuster is intended to be disruptive to the work in the senate and not be a simple way to stop a vote from happening. It used to be that the only way to filibuster a bill in the senate was to stand on the floor and speak for the entire time but at one point they decided that was keeping other work from happening so they changed it to just threaten use of it. Now the filibuster doesn't prevent work from happening but it makes it trivial to filibuster a bill with no consequences or intention to work on a solution and bring the bill up for a vote.

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    Any law can be repealed by a simple majority regardless of how it was passed, but only if the president agrees. If the president does not agree, a 2/3 supermajority is necessary.
    – phoog
    Mar 26, 2021 at 17:13
  • @phoog That is correct but that is not what this question is asking about. It is asking about what congress passing a law not about the law getting signed or needing to override a veto as those two items are unrelated to the filibuster.
    – Joe W
    Mar 26, 2021 at 17:17
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    I understand. I'm just saying that the first sentence implies a condition that does not exist. Perhaps "any law can be repealed through the normal lawmaking process" or something like that. (Also, as this is Politics, it might be worth mentioning that the constitutionally possible is frequently constrained by the politically possible.)
    – phoog
    Mar 26, 2021 at 17:29
  • @phoog I think you are being overly picky here as this question is about congress passing a bill not about a president signing it or vetoing it.
    – Joe W
    Mar 26, 2021 at 17:45
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    The filibuster was never intended to be anything; it basically happened by accident, and then senators from the South started using it to block legislation they disliked (notably civil rights legislation). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filibuster_in_the_United_States_Senate en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Mar 27, 2021 at 18:02

Including the prior provided answer along with key commentary on this answer:
It looks like the Democrats can get rid of the filibuster to pass voting rights. The next congress could repeal this law with a simple majority unless there is a presidential veto. This seems to indicate that voting rights would last at least until the next presidential election.

If the next president is Republican (not as likely with much stronger voting rights) and the congress has a Republican majority of both houses then (in theory) the voting rights could be repealed. If these voting rights are accompanied by much stronger measures to ensure voting integrity then the supreme court may over-rule any repeal that only seeks to eliminate voting rights.

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    "not as likely with much stronger voting rights" => source? Mar 26, 2021 at 23:51
  • I am the source of that. I thought all these things though before I asked my question. It turns out that the new bill implements several of the ideas that I thought of before I ever looked at the bill. The other key idea that must also be implemented is a way to make the voting process airtight. If that is part of the bill there there is no excuse what-so-ever to repeal it.
    – polcott
    Mar 27, 2021 at 0:01

What is legally possible is irrelevant. Once the filibuster is removed there is no likelihood of a subsequent Senate, either Democrat or Republican trying to reinstate it.

In 2013 the Demcrats removed the filibuster for Judicial appointments below the Supreme Court and Republicans objected. After becoming that majority party in 2016 no move to restore this filibuster was made and the Republican Majority the decided to go further and remove the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments as well. There has been no hint of the 2020 Senate looking to put either of these filibusters back.

Republicans will not restore the legislative filibuster if it is removed.


In theory, yes, if Republicans win a simple majority in both Houses of Congress as well as the presidency, they could then repeal this law with a simple majority. A repeal is just another law that says the previous law is no longer valid, and so the rules would be the same for it as for any other law.

However, there is a wrinkle. The purpose of the voting rights bill is to try and make voting more fair by preventing any limitations on voting and preventing gerrymandering, tactics that Republicans are purportedly using (e.g. laws passed in Georgia recently). These attempts are suggested to be because Republicans feel they need them to be able to win. As such, it is widely thought that a bill forbidding them would make it harder harder for Republicans to win without changing their policies.

This isn't just something Democrats are saying. Republican Senator Ted Cruz, in his opposition to the For the People Act, has stated "H.R. 1′s only objective is to ensure that Democrats can never again lose another election, that they will win and maintain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate and of the state legislatures for the next century."

This is a large part of the political calculations for this move---whether or not the Republicans would be able to easily undo legislation Democrats pass after the removal or nerfing of the procedural filibuster. Without a bill like HR1 or general sentiment that Republicans are limiting voting to try and win elections, such a move would be less politically viable.

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