Warren: 'We Should Get Rid of the Filibuster' if Republicans Block a Democratic White House

April 5, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) embraced the abolition of the Senate filibuster on Friday, telling the National Action Network she was tired of different rules for Republicans and Democrats.

Warren, part of the crowd of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination, said in a speech to Al Sharpton's group the filibuster's history was rooted in racism.

"For generations, the filibuster was used as a tool to block progress on racial justice and in recent years, it's been used by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything," she said. "I've only served one term in the Senate, but I've seen what's happened. We all saw what they did to President Obama. I've watched the Republicans abuse the rules when when they're out of power and then turn around and blow off the rules when they're in power."

Warren said she was "done with two sets of rules" for Republicans and Democrats.

"That means when Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama, and puts small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems in this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster," she said.

It marks another major policy change called for by Warren as she tries to distinguish herself in a crowded 2020 field. Warren has also called for the abolition of the Electoral College, expressed openness to reparations payments, and pitched an annual "ultra-millionaires" tax to fund some of her proposed programs.

A filibuster can only be overcome with a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-person body, and Warren likely recognized that ambitious progressive legislation like the Green New Deal or sweeping gun control packages could be blocked by a Republican minority.

Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), with the approval of President Barack Obama and other liberals in 2013, invoked the nuclear option—where a simple majority can vote on a rules change—to eliminate the filibuster on all presidential judicial nominees, except Supreme Court picks, according to the Washington Post.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) used it to prevent Democrats from filibustering Donald Trump's Supreme Court picks Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and he also used the nuclear option this week to cut debate time on lower-level nominees from 30 to two hours.

The change had no impact on the existing 60-vote threshold to advance legislation, however, but Warren would change that if Republicans blocked a hypothetical Democratic president's agenda.