Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Friday publicly endorsed eliminating the filibuster, a firmer stance than that of several of her Senate colleagues who are also seeking the nomination.
She made the announcement in a speech at a conference hosted by the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton.
According to excerpts of her prepared remarks released by her campaign, Warren denounced the filibuster — the 60-vote requirement to pass many major Senate bills — as “a tool to block progress on racial justice,” citing Republicans’ use of the filibuster to continually block anti-lynching legislation.
“Last year, the Senate passed a bill that would make lynching a federal crime. Last year. In 2018. Do you know when the first bill to make lynching a federal crime was introduced? 1918. One hundred years ago,” she said. “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.”
Warren also noted that “in recent years, it’s been used by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything,” citing Senate Republicans’ attempts to obstruct President Barack Obama’s agenda.
By eliminating the filibuster, Senate bills would only require a simple majority to pass, meaning that if Democrats take control of the Senate, they could pass more progressive policy proposals without bipartisan support.
“In recent years, it’s been used by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything.”
Other Democratic presidential candidates have been hesitant to take a definitive position on the filibuster issue in previous months.
“My colleagues and I, everybody I’ve talked to, believe the legislative filibuster should stay there, and I will personally resist efforts to get rid of it,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said in January.
“I understand that we are heading, right now, we are heading that way, to people on both sides,” he said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told HuffPost in February that eliminating the filibuster is “a little bit speculative. I need to worry about what’s happening in the country right now. That’s a little bit into the future.”
But Warren had not ruled it out, telling Politico in January that “everything stays on the table. You keep it all on the table. Don’t take anything off the table.”
Warren’s speech Friday focused on systemic changes, including reforming Senate rules.
“I’m not running for president just to talk about making real, structural change,” she said. “I’m serious about getting it done. And part of getting it done means waking up to the reality of the United States Senate.”
This story has been updated with comments from Warren’s speech Friday.