Democratic Sen. Mark Warner would support ‘small carve-out’ on filibuster to pass voting-rights legislation

Mark Warner
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.

  • Sen. Mark Warner would back a “small carve-out” to the filibuster to pass voting-rights legislation.
  • Warner said he supports the For the People Act and lamented the raft of restrictive GOP-led voting bills.
  • He lamented the result of the 2013 filibuster rule change as it pertains to the Supreme Court.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia on Sunday said that he would support a “small carve-out” on the filibuster to pass voting-rights legislation.

On “Fox News Sunday,” he cautioned against the Senate morphing into the House, where the majority party holds enormous sway over legislation, emphasizing the importance of preserving voting rights.

“I don’t want the Senate to become like the House,” Warner said. “But I do believe when it comes to voting rights, when it comes to that basic right to exercise and participate in democracy, I get very worried what’s happening in some of these states where they are actually penalizing, saying if you give somebody water waiting in line to vote, or in states like Texas where they’re saying a local government can overcome the results of a local election. That is not democracy.”

He added: “If we have to do a small carve out on filibuster for voting rights – that is the only area where I’d allow that kind of reform.”

Warner supports the sweeping voting-rights legislation known as the For the People Act, also identified as S.1, which would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, establish national standards for voter registration, and blunt voter purges, among other measures.

Read more: Gov. Kristi Noem’s inner circle is packed with family, Trump aides, and connected South Dakotans. Meet the gatekeepers for her potential 2024 presidential run.

Democrats would also like to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore federal preclearance from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was weakened in the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder.

Former President Donald Trump’s false election claims have only deepened the partisan divide on voting rights, and GOP congressional leaders have come out against the Democratic-led voting bills.

Last month, a vote to advance the For the People Act failed 50-50, with Democrats unable to win any Republican support. In order for the bill to pass under current rules, it would need to meet the 60-vote threshold to overcome a legislative filibuster.

In an evenly divided Senate, that task has become nearly impossible, especially since the bill cannot be passed through the budget reconciliation process and moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona oppose nixing the filibuster entirely.

Democrats, who have strongly opposed the raft of restrictive voting bills that have passed this year in states like Arizona and Florida, sense a narrowing window for voting rights as the 2022 midterm elections approach.

In the interview, Warner questioned former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s 2013 decision to change the filibuster rules for most presidential nominees, which now only require a simple majority.

“I would wish we wouldn’t even have started this a decade ago,” he said. “When the Democratic leaders actually changed the rules, I don’t think we would have the Supreme Court we did if we still had a 60-vote margin on the filibuster.”

He added: “But we are where we are, and the idea that somehow to protect the rights of the minority in the Senate, we’re going to cut out rights of minorities and young people all across the country, that’s just not right to me.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP lawmakers caught on video telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for not blowing up the filibuster: ‘Without that we would be dead meat’

andy biggs
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), votes no on the first article of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2019.

  • GOP congressmen were caught on tape telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for holding firm on the filibuster.
  • “Without that we would be dead meat and this thing would be done,” a GOP congressman said.
  • The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a major chunk of Biden’s agenda.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several Republican lawmakers were secretly filmed imploring conservative activists to flood a pair of centrist Democrats with messages of gratitude for holding firm on the filibuster, a 60-vote threshold that most bills need to clear the Senate.

It’s the latest video posted by Democratic activist Lauren Windsor, only days after posting another one showing a GOP congressman calling for “18 months of chaos” to jam Democrats. Both sets of remarks were made at a June 29 Patriot Voices event attended by a large group of conservatives.

In the newest video, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona said Democrats were “pushing as hard as they can” to enact President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“Fortunately for us, the filibuster’s still in effect in the Senate. Without that we would be dead meat and this thing would be done,” he said in the video. “Then we’d be having a little more frantic discussion than we’d be having today.”

He went on: “But thank goodness for Sinema and Joe Manchin,” referring to Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have resisted a mounting chorus of Democratic calls to abolish the filibuster.

Then Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida urged activists in attendance to call the pair of centrist Democrats and thank them for refusing to blow up the filibuster.

“All of you in this room, people at home on Zoom, let me tell you right now, if you want to do one thing to keep the republic afloat, call Joe Manchin’s office, call Kyrsten Sinema’s office,” he said.

Donald’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Biggs’s office declined to comment on the record.

The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a substantial chunk of Biden’s agenda on the economy, voting rights, policing reform, and immigration. Given Democrats’ 50-50 majority that relies on a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, many in the party are calling to get rid of it so they can pass legislation without Republicans.

But Manchin and Sinema have dug in on preserving it. “There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in April.

Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator and 2016 GOP primary candidate, also attended the event. He acknowledged the difficulty Republicans face rolling back social programs once they’re in place – a possible reference to their failed attempt to scrap the Affordable Care Act under President Donald Trump in 2017, and others proposing cuts to safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security.

“It’s a lot easier to pass giveaways than to take them away. And everybody thinks, ‘Oh, well you know, we’ll just take them away,'” he said in the video. “No we won’t! No we won’t.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he remains opposed to removing the filibuster, amid growing pressure from liberals to erase it

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin on Capitol Hill.

  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin remains opposed to dumping the filibuster.
  • Some Democrats want the rule erased to overcome GOP opposition and enact sweeping reforms.
  • Manchin’s support is vital if Democrats are to reform or remove the rule.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said that he remains opposed to dumping the filibuster, a Senate rule that progressives want removed to overcome GOP opposition and enact sweeping reforms on gun control laws and voting rights.

The senator from West Virginia, a Republican-leaning state, has put a break on a push by some Democrats to use the party’s control of Congress to enact major reforms and sidestep GOP opposition and spoiling tactics.

“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the US government,” Manchin said in a statement Friday.

In remarks to The New York Times in an article published Saturday, Manchin defended the filibuster, saying that it had been designed to encourage bipartisan consensus and erasing it could destroy the Senate.

He also signaled opposition to suspending the rule for certain bills, as some Democrats have suggested.

“You’re either committed or not,” he remarked of the rule.

Manchin’s remarks have special weight because Democrats need the backing of all 50 of their senators to get bills passed or rules reformed, with the chamber currently evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaker.

The filibuster has been used as a spoiling tactic by Republicans and Democrats to block bills in recent years.

To overcome a filibuster and pass bills, 60 Senate votes are needed, meaning that Democrats will need to secure at least 10 Republicans’ support to overcome likely GOP filibusters on issues including gun control reform and voting rights.

The case for tighter federal gun control laws was highlighted by mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado, in the past fortnight, say advocates.

Democrats say that a federal voting rights bill is needed to counteract a push by state Republican legislatures to restrict voting access. No GOP senators have signaled support for reforming gun laws or expanding voting rights amid deep partisan divides on the issues.

But Manchin did say to the Times that he was open to reforming the filibuster and changing the rule to require senators to actually voice their opposition to a bill and speak out in the chamber. In theory, it’s a change that would make it harder to use the filibuster as a spoiling tactic and has been backed by President Joe Biden.

Current rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish, and on any topic they choose. In 2013 Sen. Ted Cruz spoke for 21 hours to stop the Affordable Care Act. During the filibuster, he read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr. Seuss.

Manchin said his main goal is to get Republicans and Democrats in the Senate talking again.

“America’s declining trust in the government and each other makes it harder to solve key problems. That trust will continue to diminish unless we, as members of Congress, transcend partisanship,” he remarked in Friday’s statement.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Pressure is mounting to ditch the filibuster and pass gun reform after back-to-back mass shootings in the US

AP21081820255496
Police work on the scene outside a King Soopers grocery store where a shooting took place Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colo

  • Calls to end the Senate filibuster have intensified after two mass shootings in one week in the US.
  • Activists say trashing the filibuster is the only way to pass gun reform in the Senate.
  • A growing number of Democrats have voiced their support for filibuster elimination or reform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After 18 people were killed in two high-profile mass shootings within a week in the US, calls to abolish the filibuster have been intensifying among activists and Democratic politicians as a necessary step to pass gun reform.

Ten people were killed in a Boulder, Colorado, King Soopers grocery store after a gunman opened fire Tuesday afternoon. That tragedy came only one week after a man shot and killed 8 people in three Atlanta-area massage parlors on March 16.

As the country slowly crawls back toward normality after a year of pandemic-related lockdowns, mass shootings – an undeniable reality of American life – seem to be back in full force.

Police said Tuesday Ahmad Alissa, the man charged in the Boulder shooting, bought a semi-automatic rifle less than a week before Monday’s massacre, and in Atlanta, accused gunman Robert Aaron Long allegedly bought the gun he’s suspected of using to murder eight people the day of the shooting.

Neither Colorado nor Georgia has a waiting period when it comes to purchasing firearms. In fact, just 10 US states and Washington, DC, have any type of law requiring a waiting period between the time a person attempts to purchase a gun and when they are able to take possession of the weapon, Insider’s Connor Perrett reported.

The dual tragedies have once again reinvigorated calls for comprehensive, federal gun control. But this time, proponents have zeroed in on a tangible first step: eliminate the filibuster.

Calls to gut the filibuster – the Senate rule that requires 60 votes rather than a simple majority of 51 to pass most legislation – have been ramping up since Democrats took control of Congress in January.

Supporters argue doing so is the only way to push forward a progressive agenda, including an increased minimum wage, student-loan forgiveness, and now, gun control.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted her support for nuking the rule following Monday’s shooting.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Texas politician Julian Castro echoed their support.

Castro told CNN the recent shootings are just one more example of why the country needs “significant filibuster reform” that makes it easier for “effective, meaningful legislation” like gun control to be enacted.

Merkley said if Republicans won’t “get on board” with common-sense gun safety legislation, “we should abolish the filibuster and get it done.”

Democratic rising star and Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman tweeted his support.

And the former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich delivered a concise message.

In a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois said Congress’ refusal to pass gun legislation has made it complicit in recent violence, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Even with the Democrats’ narrow control of both chambers, passing any type of gun legislation in the Senate is unlikely. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans on board in order to bypass the filibuster.

Nuking the filibuster could prove to be an equally insurmountable task as at least two moderate Democratic senators have voiced their opposition to doing so. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared earlier this year he would “never” change his mind on the filibuster and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has also said she’s against dismantling the Senate staple.

The growing list of Democratic supporters, however, could mean an opportunity to at least reform the filibuster, rather than abolishing it entirely.

But for the people who suffer the consequences of gun violence, action can’t come soon enough. Fred Guttenberg, a gun-control activist and father of a student murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting said the recent gun violence was both predictable and inevitable.

“End the filibuster,” Guttenberg tweeted Tuesday. “Gun safety needs to move forward without them.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Dianne Feinstein is ‘open’ to filibuster reform, citing GOP ‘abuse’ of the Senate procedure

Dianne Feinstein
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) speaks during the confirmation hearing for then-Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen on January 19, 2021.

  • Dianne Feinstein said that she would be “open” to possible changes with the legislative filibuster.
  • The position is stark turnaround for the longtime Senate institutionalist.
  • Feinstein said that she is concerned about Republican ‘abuse’ of the procedural tool.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Friday said that she would be “open” to possible changes with the legislative filibuster, a departure from the longtime senator’s institutionalist leanings.

Feinstein, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992, has been leery of dramatically altering the procedural tool, instead pushing for bipartisan consensus on issues like gun control and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

However, she said that if Senate Republicans “abuse the filibuster,” her position might shift.

“Ideally the Senate can reach bipartisan agreement on those issues, as well as on a voting rights bill,” she said in a statement. “But if that 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.”

Feinstein noted that President Joe Biden, who represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years and has defended the Senate’s deliberative processes, including the filibuster, has himself come out in favor of a “talking filibuster.”

“I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster; you have to do it, what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,” Biden said in an ABC News interview earlier this week. “You had to stand up and command the floor, and you had to keep talking.”

Read more: https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-best-friends-congress-delaware-delegation-coons-carper-rochester-2021-3

Feinstein said that Biden’s idea was “worth discussing.”

She added: “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.”

While it isn’t Biden’s “preference” to end the filibuster, Senate Democrats are facing a raft of House-approved bills that include the sweeping voting reform bill known as H.R. 1 and the earliest elements of immigration reform, which are almost certain to be blocked by Senate Republicans.

The Senate is evenly split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Democrats holding a majority due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote.

However, the Senate has a 60-vote threshold to advance legislation, and with the Republican caucus dominated by conservative lawmakers and the party still smarting over former President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss, legislative buy-in from the GOP on comprehensive bills will be difficult to come by.

Feinstein’s statement comes after she recently expressed concern about Democrats nuking the filibuster and Republicans enacting far-reaching legislation on the opposite political spectrum if they were to regain a majority in the Senate.

“I would say I’m undecided,” Feinstein told The Hill, adding that a GOP Senate majority “is a factor, one of the reasons why I’m hesitant.”

While many Senate Democrats have mulled over eliminating the filibuster, Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have committed to keeping the procedure in place.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elizabeth Warren says the filibuster has ‘deep roots in racism’

Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Axios the much-scrutinized filibuster has “deep roots in racism.”
  • Some Democrats have been eyeing a reform to the filibuster, which could block Biden’s agenda.
  • Democrats’ other option, reconciliation, can only be used once per fiscal year, and they’ve already done that.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democrats have had unified control in Washington again since the January runoff elections, and just like the last time they held the White House, Senate, and House, under former President Barack Obama, Republican use of the filibuster could block their plans.

As Democrats increasingly say they’re open to reforming the filibuster to enact Biden’s agenda, some are questioning the procedure’s role in American history.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Axios that it “has deep roots in racism, and it should not be permitted to serve that function, or to create a veto for the minority. In a democracy, it’s majority rules.”

As she told Axios, the founders wanted the Senate and House to function as simple majorities; ending a Senate filibuster requires 60 votes, which is obviously greater than a simple majority.

“The filibuster is a later creation that was designed to give the South the ability to veto any effective civil rights legislation or anti lynching legislation,” Warren also told Axios.

Warren did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Warren isn’t the first Democrat to point to the filibuster’s role in the potential obstruction of the Civil Rights Act. In January, Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted:

“The longest filibuster ever held on the US Senate floor was 60 days in 1964 to prevent the passing of the Civil Rights Act. The filibuster is a tool of obstruction. It does not encourage debate, it does not allow for more voices to be heard, it is for suppression only. End it.”

In his eulogy for Rep. John Lewis, former President Barack Obama called to abolish the filibuster if the step would allow federal voting laws to be passed. In fact, the House just passed H.R. 1, a major voting rights bill, but the Senate version currently faces the threat of a filibuster.

More pivotal Democrats are weighing in on the filibuster

In an ABC News interview, President Joe Biden said he supports reforming the filibuster and bringing back the talking filibuster – where senators have to keep talking throughout their filibuster.

And a sweeping piece from The Washington Post looks into the current debate over the filibuster following Biden’s reform endorsement; there’s still hesitancy among some Democrats, while others think a simple majority should be required to end a filibuster. As Vox reported, pivotal Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has seemingly signaled some support for a talking filibuster, but doesn’t support lowering the vote threshold from 60.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that if Democrats were to alter the filibuster “they’ll unleash furies they can barely imagine.”

Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig previously reported that the filibuster could prove to be a major barrier for the potential quick passage of Biden’s policies. He also reported that, per the strict rules surrounding it, Democrats could only use reconciliation twice this fiscal year. That comes as they eye a larger infrastructure package.

And the Senate used reconciliation to pass Biden’s American Rescue Plan after no Republicans voted in favor of it – meaning they essentially have just one more use remaining this fiscal year.

Read the original article on Business Insider