MUSCATINE, Iowa ― Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, said on Saturday that while he believes the filibuster process needs some reform, he doesn’t want to get rid of it. And people who do should be wary.
“Donald Trump supports the ending of the filibuster. So you should be a little bit nervous if Donald Trump supports it,” he told HuffPost in a sit-down interview before a town hall.
Getting rid of the filibuster ― which requires most significant legislation to get 60 votes, rather than just a majority, for passage ― has been bubbling up as a big issue on the 2020 campaign trail.
Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) issued the most high-profile call to get rid of it. Pointing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) blockade and slow-walk of many of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees, Warren said, “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.”
Sanders has long supported filibuster reform. In 2013, he advocated making sure senators opposed to legislation have more skin in the game, saying they should come to the floor and, as he said at the time, “for as long as they want, engage in a talking filibuster by explaining to the American people the reasons for their objection.”
Sanders said on Saturday he’s confident that his ideas ― the Green New Deal, “Medicare for All” and others ― can be passed through existing legislative channels, and he worried about taking away minority rights in the Senate:
I do think that every piece of legislation that I am fighting for can be passed with good legislative processes, including budget reconciliation.
The problem, though, that I believe, is whether you’re in the majority or the minority, I think you have to protect minority rights. I don’t think you can just simply shove everything through. There’s an argument for that, by the way, but that’s not where I am right now.
Sanders said if he gets into the White House, he’s going to have a “very broad agenda.” He listed raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, making public college tuition-free, tackling student debt, implementing Medicare for All and addressing climate change.
“I’m not a great fan of Newt Gingrich. But I remember, I was in the House when he pushed through his so-called Contract with America,” said Sanders, suggesting that he would have a focused list of priorities similar to that pushed by Republicans in the 1990s. “It has to be a very broad agenda, and it’s a lot more than two [priorities].”
Video by Ben Klein, Will Tooke and Tyler Tronson.