Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said during an interview this week that eliminating the filibuster was not “off the table” if Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden wins and Democrats take control of the Senate.
Schumer was asked about the filibuster after former President Barack Obama said last month, “And if all 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.”
“We have a moral imperative to the people of America to get a whole lot done if we get the majority, which, God willing, we will, and keep it in the House, and Biden becomes president, and nothing is off the table,” Schumer said.
“We will do what it takes to get this done,” Schumer continued. “I’m hopeful, maybe if Trump goes and McConnell is no longer leader, some Republicans might work with us. But we’re going to have to get it done, whether they work with us or not.”
Democrats eliminated the filibuster for most nominations in 2013, under Obama, which has benefited the Trump administration as it has re-shaped the federal courts.
The Hill reported:
Supporters of getting rid of the procedure – which would likely be lowered to a simple majority – argue that without the change, major parts of the Democratic agenda from health care to combating climate change and structural reforms would hit a buzz saw in the Senate because Republicans could filibuster any piece of legislation, requiring that it overcome the 60-vote hurdle to move forward.
Both Schumer and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Schumer’s No. 2, indicated last year that they were open to the idea, though Schumer – expected to be the majority leader if Democrats get control in November – has said the focus should first be on winning back the Senate.
Republicans currently control the Senate with a 53-47 majority. At least two Senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Angus King (I-ME) have voiced opposition to eliminating the filibuster.
As a senator, Obama expressed disapproval of eliminating the filibuster, saying that any efforts to eliminate it were “more about power than about fairness.”
“I believe some of my colleagues propose this rule change because they can get away with it rather than because they know it is good for our democracy,” Obama said. “If the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party and the millions of Americans who ask us to be their voice, I fear the partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything.”
“What [the American people] don’t expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet,” Obama continued. “The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this Chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse. I understand that Republicans are getting a lot of pressure to do this from factions outside the Chamber, but we need to rise above ‘the ends justify the means’ mentality because we are here to answer to the people – all of the people, not just the ones who are wearing our particular party label.”
This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.
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