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In Major Speech, Elizabeth Warren Calls For an End to the Filibuster

In a major policy speech, Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling to end the Senate filibuster. She is the first major presidential candidate to endorse ending the Senate’s historic rule which requires 60 votes to pass legislation.

Warren made her announcement at the National Action Network today. It came just two days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the  “nuclear option” to reduce debate time of presidential nominees. This allowed Republicans to railroad through huge numbers of conservative judicial picks made by Donald Trump.

Now, according to Senator Warren, it’s time for Democrats to “fight back.”

“I’m not running for President just to talk about making real, structural change. I’m serious about getting it done. And part of getting it done means waking up to the reality of the United States Senate,” Warren said, before adding:

“So let me be as clear as I can. When Democrats next have power, we should be bold and clear: we’re done with two sets of rules — one for the Republicans and one for the 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 facing this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster.”

Warren said before that eliminating the Senate filibuster should be a topic of discussion. She wants to have a debate in the 2020 presidential campaign about whether to keep it or not.

But with Democrats like Warren talking about big ideas like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and new tax plans, it’s become more and more clear that a minority of GOP senators could stop them, even if Democrats sweep the 2020 election, taking the House, the Senate and the presidency.

Republicans have this power because there’s no way for Democrats to put together 60 seats in next year’s elections. This has led progressive groups to more realistically strategize about how they might be able pass an agenda over the resistance of Senate Republicans.

Historically, conservatives have used the filibuster to stop cap and trade legislation and gun control, while liberals blocked new abortion legislation from Republicans as recently as last Congress with the filibuster.

“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,” Warren said. “I’ve only served one term in the Senate — but I’ve seen what’s happening. We all saw what they did to President Obama. I’ve watched Republicans abuse the rules when they’re out of power, then turn around and blow off the rules when they’re in power.”

Other presidential candidates have not supported Warren’s position. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) don’t want to change the filibuster.

But Warren’s endorsement today of ending the filibuster in the Senate will be sure to add it to the debate in the 2020 presidential campaign.

I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.

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