In 2017, multiple U.S. Senators signed onto a letter from Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Chris Coons, urging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to leave the filibuster in place.
“Democrats want the Senate to work, and we are willing to partner with our colleagues across the aisle if we can get things done for the American people,” said Senator Coons. “We have a long way to go to heal the wounds between our two parties, but this letter is a small first step towards that important goal.”
Senators Collins and Coons’ letter was signed by the following Democratic Senators: Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Patrick Leahy, Mark Warner, Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Bob Casey, Martin Heinrich, Jeanne Shaheen, Sherrod Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Brian Schaltz, Heidi Heitkamp, Cory Booker, Maria Cantwell, Mazie Hirono, Joe Donnelly, Jon Tester, Thomas Carper, Kamala Harris, Maggie Hassan, Bill Nelson, Tammy Duckworth, Tim Kaine, Jack Reed, Ed Markey, Debbie Stabenow, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Bob Menendez.
The letter reads as follows:
“Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer:
We are writing to urge you to support our efforts to preserve existing rules, practices, and traditions as they pertain to the right of Members to engage in extended debate on legislation before the United States Senate. Senators have expressed a variety of opinions about the appropriateness of limiting debate when we are considering judicial and executive branch nominations. Regardless of our past disagreements on that issue, we are united in our determination to preserve the ability of Members to engage in extended debate when bills are on the Senate floor.
We are mindful of the unique role the Senate plays in the legislative process, and we are steadfastly committed to ensuring that this great American institution continues to serve as the world’s greatest deliberative body. Therefore, we are asking you to join us in opposing any effort to curtail the existing rights and prerogatives of Senators to engage in full, robust, and extended debate as we consider legislation before this body in the future.”
How times have changed. Here is what many of these same Democrats say today about the filibuster.
“I would get rid of the filibuster. I have favored filibuster reform for a long time and now especially for this critical election bill.” — March 2021
“I am supportive of getting rid of the filibuster. I mean you look at what we’ve seen with these tragedies in Boulder and in Atlanta — background checks are supported by 80, 90% of the American people. And they are consistently blocked because you can’t get 60 votes. And it’s this archaic procedure that has been put in place actually during a time in our history to make it harder for people to vote. It’s looked at as a relic of the Jim Crow laws and it’s time for change. I would just get rid of it, period.” — March 24 2021
“But if that [coming together in a bipartisan manner] proves impossible and Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster by requiring cloture votes, I’m open to changing the way the Senate filibuster rules are used … I don’t want to turn away from Senate traditions, but I also don’t believe one party should be able to prevent votes on important bills by abusing the filibuster.” — March 2021
“I’m of the view that we should eliminate the filibuster despite all the risks. … [W]e can have a period of time to see if they’re willing to negotiate in good faith and willing to not hold common-sense things up and not have lots of party line votes. If that’s possible, then maybe we can govern with the filibuster, but if they start jamming us on basic things like covid relief, then that may change Sen. Schumer’s view.” — January 2021
“We’ve got to eliminate the filibuster.” — October 2020
“Yes, absolutely. And look, major changes to the filibuster for someone like me would not have been on the agenda, even a few years ago. But the senate does not work like it used to.” — March 7 2021
“The sort of filibuster usage we see makes it impossible to do some very basic things that the American people demanded of us.” — March 2021
“The filibuster must go. It’s something that’s rooted in a racist past, and it’s used today as a way of blocking the progressive agenda which President Biden is proposing — [including] environmental justice, racial justice, economic justice.” — February 2021
“If people continue for their own political reasons to make it impossible for the majority to exercise its will, filibuster reform may have to be on the table.” — September 2020
“You have to understand that a lot of these that are talked about: If we do it when we have the control to do it, they can do it again. What we need to find is real solutions that are sustainable regardless of who is president. We should be careful about the traditions in this country and how we honor them.” — March 2019
“I’m willing to work and compromise with my Republican colleagues. But at the end of the day, if they’re going to be obstructionist and not allow us to get those priorities that I listed out the door to help the American people, then everything is on the table as far as I’m concerned.” — February 2021
“I’m very open to it. Look, I was governor of a state with two legislatures and everything is operated by simple majority. It works fine.” — June 2020
“The Senate is the most unique … governing body in the world. It’s deliberate. It’s basically designed, Chuck, to make sure the minority has input. That’s exactly our Founding Fathers. And now if you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk, I’m willing to look at any way we can. But I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.” — March 2021
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.