Former President Barack Obama called to eliminate the legislative filibuster “if that's what it takes” to pass new federal voting laws in honor of the late John Lewis at Lewis' memorial service on Thursday.
Obama praised Lewis' record securing key voting rights victories, including the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and called for a slew of new federal voting rights reforms, including restoring the parts of the VRA struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, expanding polling places, automatic voter registration, and reenfranchising formerly incarcerated Americans.
“If all of this takes eliminating the filibuster — another Jim Crow relic — in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that's what we should do,” Obama said.
You can watch him make the case:
The call for getting rid of the filibuster has grown significantly. Joe Biden has warmed up to the idea:
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday signaled he would be open to the Senate ending its practice of imposing a 60-vote threshold for most legislation, a positional shift from the Democratic presidential nominee who spent more than 35 years as a senator.
In comments to journalists Monday that were reported by The New York Times, Biden said he hoped to create systemic change on an array of issues in the U.S. and said he was open to measures that would allow legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority vote.
Biden told reporters that, although he supported the filibuster in the past and still harbors hopes for bipartisan compromise, the level of defiance from Senate Republicans could influence his thought process.
Leading Democratic Senate candidates from around the country are open to at least reforming the filibuster, according to a HuffPost survey, with at least two supporting wholesale elimination of the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle.The candidates uniformly argue that the filibuster has empowered obstructionists and prevented the country from making needed progress on issues like gun control and health care. Republicans currently have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and Democrats are counting on the candidates in these targeted races to defeat incumbent Republicans and help the party win back control of the chamber.So far, Democratic groups have reserved airtime for ads in Senate races in six states with incumbent Republicans: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Montana and North Carolina. In all six states, the leading Democratic candidate is open to eliminating the filibuster if the party wins control of the Senate in November.
That also includes The Grim Reaper of the Senate’s opponent, Amy McGrath (D. KY):
U.S. Senate candidate Amy McGrath, who is trying to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell, tells Kasie Hunt, “We need to get our government back. If getting rid of the filibuster is going to do that, to pass legislation that most Americans want and not have it held up and obstructed by one man, then yeah we need to do that.”
Coons is one of the Senate’s foremost procedural conservatives. In 2017, he organized the drafting of a bipartisan letter calling on the upper chamber’s leadership to keep the filibuster in place. But the Delawarean is also a close Biden confidant. And, by all appearances, the presumptive Democratic nominee has sent word that he would like to actually govern in 2021.
After all, as HuffPost notes, the Democrats’ leading Senate candidates have all either endorsed abolishing the filibuster or else signaled their openness to doing so if GOP obstruction forces their hands. Considering that Schumer handpicked most of these candidates — and that they have little electoral incentive to pander to the infinitesimal “anti-filibuster” voting bloc — their messaging likely signals the will of their party’s leadership.
But the clearest indication of a sea change in the Democratic Party’s attitude toward procedural radicalism may come courtesy of Joe “just barely a Democrat” Manchin. Asked about progressive senator Jeff Merkley’s push for eliminating the filibuster, Manchin told The Hill Thursday, “I just heard they started talking and I’m interested in listening to anything because the place isn’t working.”
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