Elizabeth Warren just endorsed an idea to radically reshape the Senate that Trump also loves

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday said she would support abolishing the Senate’s legislative filibuster.
  • Getting rid of the filibuster would be a massive change to the Senate’s rules.
  • Speaking at a conference in New York City on Friday, Warren said the filibuster had become a hindrance to effectively passing legislation.
  • “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.

NEW YORK CITY – Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday announced her support to end the Senate’s legislative filibuster.

Warren is only the second 2020 presidential candidate to call for ending the filibuster – a dramatic institutional change that Democrats have long been squeamish on. Speaking at a civil-rights conference in New York City, she argued that conservatives had abused the rule – which requires 60 votes to pass legislation – to suppress racial progress throughout US history.

“Last year the Senate passed a bill that would make lynching a federal crime,” Warren told the crowd at the National Action Network Convention. “Last year – 2018. Do you know when the first bill to make lynching a federal crime was introduced? 1918. A hundred years ago. And it nearly became the law back then. It passed the House in 1922. But it got killed in the Senate by a filibuster. And then it got killed again. And again. And again. More than 200 times. An entire century of obstruction because a small group of racists stopped the entire nation from doing what was right.”

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington has come out in favour of ending the filibuster with the goal of passing climate-change policy, a central issue in his nascent 2020 presidential campaign. But most Democratic 2020 candidates have been hesitant to endorse the idea while saying they’re open to it.

Warren does, however, find herself in the company of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly but unsuccessfully called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get rid of the legislative filibuster.

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“I’ve only served one term in the Senate, but I’ve seen what’s happening,” she said. “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.”

Without the Senate filibuster, both the House and the Senate would be governed by simple-majority rule, making it easier for the majority party in Congress to pass legislation. In 2017, Republicans took advantage of the “nuclear option” to require only 51 votes to confirm Supreme Court justices. Democrats had gotten rid of the 60-vote requirement to confirm federal judicial and executive nominees in 2013.

“Let me be as clear as I can about this – when Democrats next have power, we should be bold,” Warren said. “We’re done with two sets of rules – one for the Republicans and one for the Democrats. And 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.”

Warren has made racial justice central to her campaign, putting forth detailed policies addressing racial disparities in housing, education, healthcare, and voting rights. She focused the bulk of her speech Friday on her universal-childcare plan, which would allow poorer families to access free care while capping the amount families with higher incomes would pay at 7% of their income.

“The legacy of decades of discrimination against black women,” she said. “It is little wonder that childcare or the lack of good childcare holds back one generation of black Americans after another.”