Congressman Sarbanes' Statement on the Filibuster

The United States Senate is broken. 

The most recent casualty of its dysfunction is the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, landmark voting rights and democracy reform legislation that was blocked by the filibuster.  

Having led the successful passage of this bill in the House of Representatives on three separate occasions -- and always with your help and support -- I am deeply disappointed that the Senate could not find a way to change the rules and free itself from the straitjacket of the filibuster.  History will bring harsh judgment upon the fifty-two senators who chose to preserve this arcane procedural rule rather than protect our democracy in its hour of greatest need. 

This was a stinging defeat for voting rights advocates and the countless numbers of Americans who for years have worked to advance key reforms to broaden ballot access, fix partisan gerrymandering and combat the influence of dark money.  

In this moment, however much we may feel aggrieved and angry, let us reach for the words of the late John Lewis:  “Never give up, never give in, never give out. Keep the faith, and keep your eyes on the prize. Together, we can redeem the soul of America.”