- 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.
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.