POLITICS

Cory Booker Walks Back Opposition To Eliminating The Filibuster

The 2020 Democratic presidential contender running on a message of compromise and bipartisanship is taking a second look at the filibuster.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) cracked open the door to getting rid of the filibuster on Tuesday, after repeatedly defending the Senate’s longstanding supermajority requirement since announcing his campaign for president earlier this year.

“I’m going to tell you that for me that door is not closed,” Booker said in an interview with “Pod Save America” when asked about his position on the filibuster. “I understand that we are heading, right now, we are heading that way, to people on both sides.”

The New Jersey Democrat appeared conflicted about going as far as some other 2020 presidential contenders in calling for the outright abolishment of the filibuster, however, pointing to what Republicans might have done without it in the last two years when they controlled both the White House and Congress.

“Having lived my life as a minority, I like minority rights. ... They would have hurt people in my community. Literally doing policies that could cause people’s death,” Booker said.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

Booker has done nothing but praise the filibuster in recent months, however. He defended the rule in an interview with NPR just three weeks ago, saying that there is “good reason to have a Senate where we are forced to find pragmatic bipartisan solutions. Let’s be a country that operates from that sense of common purpose.”

In February, Booker pledged that he would “personally resist efforts to get rid of” the filibuster. And in January, he told Politico that “we should not be doing anything to mess with the strength” of the filibuster. “It’s one of the distinguishing factors of this body. And I think it is good to have the power of the filibuster,” the senator added.

Even if Democrats win the White House and Senate in 2020, major progressive policy proposals such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal would likely face a GOP blockade without a change to the Senate’s longstanding 60-vote threshold on legislation.

The 2020 Democratic field is divided on eliminating the filibuster. Some, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have said they are open to it. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) remains “conflicted” on the matter, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is similarly “not crazy” about getting rid of the filibuster.

In his interview with “Pod Save America,” Booker framed the issue as part of a larger fight to change what he called the country’s “Twitter trash-talking, trolling, hateful” politics to a more compromise-oriented mindset that included “reaching out to disaffected Republicans.”

“Look, when I’m Trump’s age it’ll be between 2040-2050. What will America look like by 2050 if we don’t change our politics, sincerely, with where we’re going?” Booker said.

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