Hours after Barack Obama announced support for ending the Senate filibuster, Bernie Sanders joined him in calling for an end to the legislative practice, the first time he has done so.
“President Obama is absolutely right. It is an outrage that modern-day poll taxes, gerrymandering, I.D. requirements, and other forms of voter suppression still exist today. If expanding the Voting Rights Act requires us to eliminate the filibuster, then that is what we must do,” Sanders said Thursday.
His statement came after the former president called the filibuster a “Jim Crow relic” during his eulogy at the funeral of civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis.
“If all of this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do,” Obama said.
Despite advocating for sweeping legislation like a $16 trillion climate plan during his last presidential run that was unlikely to be supported by a single Republican, Sanders had previously held out against ending the filibuster.
“I haven’t wavered,” Sanders said in September 2019. “What I have said is we need major filibuster reform. Budget reconciliation is the method we will use.”
In April 2019, Sanders said of the filibuster: “Donald Trump supports the ending of the filibuster. So you should be a little bit nervous if Donald Trump supports it.”
The filibuster prevents Senate debate on legislation from ending and moving to a vote without approval from 60 out of 100 senators. If Democrats win a slim majority in the Senate of less than 60 seats, Republicans would likely block changes in the law having to do with healthcare, statehood for Washington and Puerto Rico, and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, among other changes. But with a slim majority in both chambers and no filibuster, Democrats could push the legislation through.
Biden, who opposed getting rid of the filibuster through the primary campaign, changed course to open up to the idea of ending the legislative practice earlier this month.
“It’s going to depend on how obstreperous they become,” Biden said, referring to Republicans and their willingness to pass his legislative priories. “I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.”
President Obama is absolutely right. It is an outrage that modern-day poll taxes, gerrymandering, I.D. requirements, and other forms of voter suppression still exist today. If expanding the Voting Rights Act requires us to eliminate the filibuster, then that is what we must do. https://t.co/4pLb1rZCSj
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 30, 2020
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