The top Democrat in the Senate reiterated on Tuesday his openness to eliminating the filibuster, the upper chamber’s requirement that many bills can advance only with the support of 60 votes.
“Once we get the majority we’ll discuss it in our caucus. Nothing’s off the table,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told HuffPost at a weekly press conference.
Schumer gave a similar answer last year when asked about eliminating the filibuster. But his position on the matter is arguably even more meaningful now given that his party is facing an increasing likelihood of retaking the upper chamber.
The effort to nix the long-standing Senate tradition gained even more steam recently after former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in 2020, opened the door to doing so if Republicans unfairly obstruct his agenda if he is elected president in November.
Biden, a longtime defender of the rule, said earlier this month it would “depend on how obstreperous they become,” referring to Senate Republicans.
He added, “I have not supported the elimination of the filibuster … but I think you have to just take a look at it.”
The filibuster isn’t enshrined in the Constitution, but starting in the 1800s it evolved as a Senate rule. It allows 41 senators in the 100-member chamber to block bills from proceeding to a final vote.
Many on the left fear that Republicans will abuse the filibuster to block much of Biden’s agenda should he be elected president. Democrats will need almost total unanimity in their caucus ― 51 votes ― to get rid of it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, recently warned Democrats they would regret eliminating the filibuster unilaterally.
“I think the important thing for our Democratic friends to remember is that you might not be in total control in the future,” McConnell said in June. “Any time you start fiddling around with the rules of the Senate, I think you always need to put yourself in the other fellow’s shoes and just imagine what might happen when the winds shift.”
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