“The question will be what will that (filibuster) reform look like?” Cortez Masto said. “That’s the conversation that’s taking place, and I suspect will take place for the next couple of weeks or so.” (Zoom call screengrab)
Three southwestern Democratic U.S. senators during a private Zoom call with supporters on Tuesday suggested they were open to filibuster reform but stopped short of offering specifics on the kind of reform they would get behind.
The senators — Michael Bennet of Colorado, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Mark Kelly of Arizona — are each up for reelection in 2022, and each have been targeted as potentially among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Bennet suggested the abuse of the filibuster, rather than the filibuster itself, was the real obstacle to success of the Democrats’ agenda in Congress.
“It makes it very hard to compete when we’ve got something like the filibuster, the abuse of the filibuster is a better way of saying it, in the hands of Mitch McConnell,” Bennet said, referring to the Republican Senate minority leader.
Filibusters are permitted by a Senate rule that effectively requires 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to pass most legislation. It has been the topic of recent heated debate, because it increasingly has been employed as a method of obstruction. Republicans on Tuesday used the filibuster to block what Democrats viewed, in the face of voter suppression measures enacted by GOP-controlled state legislatures, as a critical elections reform bill, the For the People Act. Democrats, who control the Senate by the thinnest margin, face pressure to curb or eliminate the filibuster, which could be achieved with a majority vote.
Bennet said “the country cannot afford … another period of obstruction that looks like the period of obstruction that Mitch McConnell led when Barack Obama was our president, we simply cannot afford it again. And we’re gonna have a tough negotiation among ourselves to figure out how to get through it, but I think we will.”
Cortez Masto also indicated she is open to reform.
“If any issue forces this discussion as to do something and address the filibuster, it is For the People Act,” she said. “Because it is crucial that we get this done.” She added, “And there is talk now about reforming the filibuster. The question will be what will that reform look like? … That’s the conversation that’s taking place, and I suspect will take place for the next couple of weeks or so.”
Kelly similarly said the filibuster is creating roadblocks in the Senate but avoided stating support for specific filibuster reforms and instead affirmed that “there are other discussions going on, about how do we, you know, modify the rules to make the place more functional.”
Much frustration among Democratic voters has centered on conservative Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who are vocal in their opposition to filibuster reform.
Later in the hour-long call, Bennet said Democrats should emulate McConnell’s strategic “relentlessness.”
“I believe very strongly that I would not want any of my colleagues to be as cynical as Mitch McConnell is. But I do think we need to be as strategic as Mitch McConnell is,” Bennet said. “And I think there have been a lot of times in the last decade when that hasn’t been the case. And I regret that to some extent, because of his relentlessness … It’s clear that we have got to be clear about what it is we’re trying to achieve. And we’ve got to do what’s necessary to achieve it.”
This story was originally published by the Colorado Newsline, which like the Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit network of news outlets.
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