Illinois Dem: The Filibuster Is Killing Children

February 15, 2022

Illinois Democratic congressman Sean Casten said Democrats are "going to keep killing children" until they get rid of the filibuster.

Casten's remark came during a Monday press conference with Rep. Robin Kelly (D., Ill.) and leading gun control groups, including Giffords, Brady United Against Gun Violence, and Everytown for Gun Safety. During the event, Casten blamed Democrats' failure to pass "significant gun control legislation" on the filibuster, portrayed the Senate rule as a product of slavery, and argued that Democrats would "keep killing children" until they abolish it.

"The Senate was designed to make sure that it did not represent the majority of the American people, because our founders were petrified that if we had a fully representative democracy we might get rid of slavery. Then add the filibuster to make it even less representative," Casten said. "The design of the Senate makes it impossible for [Democrats] to actually do the will of the American people, and until we get rid of the filibuster, we're going to keep killing children."

Casten is no stranger to theatrical political rhetoric. As a congressional candidate in 2018, the Democrat referenced "Nazis and racists in the White House" and compared then-president Donald Trump to al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for killing nearly 3,000 Americans in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"In many ways—and I don't mean to sound overly, I don't know, hyperbolic on this—Trump and Osama bin Laden have a tremendous amount in common," Casten said. "They have both figured out how to use the bully pulpit to activate marginalized young men. Every demagogue has done this—find a group of angry people and give them something to be angry at."

President Joe Biden and Democratic members of Congress began attacking the filibuster last year, with Biden calling the rule a "Jim Crow relic" that Republicans have "abused in a gigantic way." Democrats, however, used the filibuster more than 300 times in 2020. Biden himself also railed against calls to eliminate the rule as a senator in 2005.

"It is not only a bad idea, it upsets the constitutional design, and it disservices the country," Biden said at the time. "No longer would the Senate be that 'different kind of legislative body' that the founders intended. No longer would the Senate be the 'saucer' to cool the passions of the immediate majority."