Warren was one of 19 presidential candidates to speak at a presidential candidate forum hosted by the public-sector labor union AFSCME in Las Vegas on Saturday. HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel and Jon Ralston of The Nevada Independent, who moderated the discussion, demanded answers from Warren as to how she would get her big ideas through the notoriously slow-moving legislative body. The filibuster allows even a minority of 41 senators to block legislation from a vote on the floor.
Terkel noted that even some centrist Democrats, like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, could prove hostile to her policy priorities.
Warren began by affirming that she believes Democrats will flip the Senate and take the presidency, even as they maintain control of the House.
She then said she would pursue items on her agenda that enjoy broad bipartisan support, starting with her plan to levy a 2% tax on personal wealth over $50 million.
“That’s not only supported by an overwhelming majority of Democrats, it’s not only supported by independents ― a majority of Republicans support that. So that’s a good place to start from,” she said.
Ralston noted that Senate obstructionists have at times defied public opinion in their efforts to block legislation.
But Warren countered that the failure of the Republican legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act in the GOP-controlled Senate in December 2017 shows the difficulty of any party ignoring public opinion when constituents mobilize for or against a particular policy. Three Republican senators joined all 48 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to stop the bill in no small part because of public opposition and protest to repeal.
“Mitch McConnell worked against us every inch of the way,” she recalled of the Senate majority leader. “And how did we get it done? We did it because people across this country got organized, got mobilized, made their voices heard. I believe we can make democracy work.”
Warren might also have noted that she endorsed abolishing the filibuster in April.
Since the candidate forum was hosted by AFSCME, which is celebrating the passage of a Nevada law granting state workers collective bargaining rights, much of Saturday’s discussion focused on the priorities of union workers. Terkel and Ralston asked Warren whether she would appoint labor union leaders to top Cabinet posts.
“You bet!” she replied, before launching into a riff about President Donald Trump’s reliance on corporate titans to fill his Cabinet posts.
When asked in a follow-up exchange whether that meant she would consider a union leader for labor secretary, Warren again said, “You bet I would.”
But when pressed to make a commitment to do so, Warren left herself some wiggle room.
“That’s what I want!” she said. “It’s not hard.”