Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrapped up a three-day swing through southeast Iowa Monday, focusing on rural parts of the state fewer than two months shy of the caucuses.
Warren traversed the southeast corner of Iowa, holding town halls during which she shortened her traditional stump speech to allow for more voter questions—a new shift for Warren, who until recently only answered about three questions per event.
One voter praised Warren for her “wonderful” policy proposals, but asked how she would see any of them come to fruition as Republicans will try to block her agenda if she is elected.
“It is time to roll back the filibuster and I will lead that fight,” Warren said to cheers. “If [Sen.] Mitch McConnell ‘I will use whatever power I’ve got to block the agenda’ like he did with President Obama then I’m done. I will step up and say, ‘come on Democrats, it’s time to roll back the filibuster.”Without naming anyone specifically, Warren took a jab at her opponents who aren’t firmly supportive of getting rid of the filibuster. Only Warren and candidate Tom Steyer have clearly stated they support eliminating it, according to The Washington Post.
“When people come to you and talk about climate change and say, ‘I’ve got these great plans for climate change’but then you ask them about the filibuster and then say, ‘no, I’m not going to roll back the filibuster.’ Then you really have to say: you’re not serious,” Warren said.
I have long said that we need to either abolish or greatly reform the use of the filibuster if Democrats are to tackle serious issues like climate change. This is why Warren has received the endorsement from the major progressive organization, Indivisible:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren was ranked at the top of progressive group Indivisible's Democratic candidate scorecard on Wednesday with a score of 95% and garnered praise from the group for her commitment to enacting bold democracy reforms on Day One of her potential administration.
The Massachusetts Democrat has “both a bold progressive vision for our country and the day-one democracy agenda we need to make that vision a reality,” Indivisible wrote.
The group scored the Democratic candidates in three areas:
- Policy Platform
- Day-One Democracy Agenda
- Building Grassroots Power
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was slightly behind Warren with an overall score of 89%, losing some points in the latter two categories. He was given the highest score in the Policy Platform category, with 97% vs. Warren's 94%.
“More than any other candidate, he has proposed the most progressive and transformative set of policies across key policy issues,” Indivisible said of Sanders. “In particular, his proposals to combat climate change, to transform our immigration system, and to guarantee universal access to healthcare earned him full credit in those policy sections.”
Sanders won perfect scores on his policy proposals for immigration, climate action, healthcare, and economic justice; Warren lost points on immigration for failing to commit to a moratorium on deportations.
Sanders lost points for not committing to ending the Senate filibuster as Warren has. Though the Vermont senator has proposed directing his vice president to help his policy proposals including Medicare for All to pass through the budget reconciliation process—a proposal which Vox called “arguably more radical than simply abolishing the filibuster”—Indivisible determined that allowing the filibuster to stand still “poses a significant barrier to enacting his legislative agenda.”
While Sanders has built a coalition of working people—drawing the largest crowd so far in the key state of Iowa last month and becoming the only candidate to draw contributions from one million individual donors—the senator lost points in Indivisible's grassroots power category because he has endorsed only one progressive primary challenger in a House race thus far.
Warren scored a 97% on Building Grassroots Power for her endorsements of both Marie Newman and Jessica Cisneros and her commitment to building a coalition of members of Congress who will help pass her agenda.
The Center For American Progress has a great piece out about how the filibuster has been used to block a lot of progressive policies to help the country including a Cap and Trade Bill during President Obama’s time in office:
During the Obama administration, Congress attempted to enact a major bill to address climate change. The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would have set new renewable fuel standards and established a cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.86 However, the proposal was never brought to a vote in the Senate. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid explained why:
It’s easy to count to 60. I could do it by the time I was in eighth grade. My point is this, we know where we are. We know we don’t have the votes [for a bill capping emissions].87
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, then chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, made the same point more succinctly: “We don’t have the 60 votes.”88 There was also some concern about the bill among moderate Democrats—and therefore some controversy about who to blame for the bill’s demise89—but it is clear that “dropping that threshold to 51 would have completely changed the political dynamics and greatly enhanced the probability of victory.”90 In the words of climate change journalist David Roberts, “Why did cap-and-trade fail? Because of filibuster abuse. That’s the simplest and most directly causal answer.”91
Since the failure of the cap-and-trade bill, no other significant piece of climate change legislation has received consideration in Congress.
In fact, former U.S. Senate Majority and Minority Leader, Harry Reid (D. NV) is echoing Warren’s call to end the filibuster to address climate change: