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While a temporary solution to the United States’ debt ceiling problem appears to be on the horizon, the possibility to circumvent the filibuster to raise or even end the federal debt limit once and for all is currently off the table due to the opposition from moderate Democrats.
Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), the same senators who withdrew support for a party-line vote on the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package, have so far come out against eliminating or changing the filibuster rules in the Senate, while more remain on the fence. The Democrats currently have a 51:50 majority in the upper chamber of U.S. Congress (including Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote), which is short of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster.
Numbers from the U.S. Senate suggest that filibusters – and the motions needed to end them – have indeed been more frequently holding up business on Capitol Hill as the often-invoked partisan gridlock becomes ever more entrenched. For the Senate, the 116th Congress, in session from 2019 to 2020, set a new record for cloture motions filed at 328. For the current, 117th Congress, that number stood at 110 after around 35 percent of the term finished.
This chart shows the numbers of cloture motions filed in the Senate, by term.