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Feinstein Signals Openness To 'Changing the Way' the Filibuster Is Used

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says she would be willing to consider making changes to the Senate filibuster if her Republican colleagues ‘abuse’ it.

The filibuster is a procedural hurdle used to delay or block a vote. It requires 60 votes to overcome, which means that most legislation requires 60 votes to pass. 

However, in an evenly divided Senate, Democrats would need 10 Republicans to vote with them to pass legislation. 

This has led some to worry that Republicans might use the hurdle to hold up or block legislation and suggest that Democrats should make changes to the filibuster rules or get rid of it — which would allow them to pass legislation with just 51 votes.

“Ideally the Senate can reach bipartisan agreement on those issues, as well as on a voting rights bill,” the California Democrat said in a statement on Friday.

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She continued, “But if that proves impossible and Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster by requiring cloture votes, I’m open to changing the way the Senate filibuster rules are used,” Feinstein said in a statement.”

Feinstein also noted that President Joe Biden signaled that the Senate might need to return to a “talking filibuster” and said the idea was “worth discussing.”

“I don’t want to turn away from Senate traditions, but I also don’t believe one party should be able to prevent votes on important bills by abusing the filibuster,” she added.

Read the statement below:

During an interview with ABC News this week, Biden said he wants the filibuster to be returned to “what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days. You had to stand up and command the floor. You had to keep talking.”

While Democrats weigh whether to make changes to the filibuster, or eliminate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is warning that Democrats would come to regret scrapping the procedural hurdle.

“This chaos would not open up an express lane to liberal change. It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books. The Senate would be more like a 100-car pileup. Nothing moving,” he said during a speech on the Senate floor.

He continued, “Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin … to imagine what a completely scorched-earth-Senate would look like.”

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McConnell also said that Republicans would take advantage of the lack of a filibuster to pass conservative legislation the next time they are in power.

With Vice President Kamala Harris casting a tie-breaking vote, Democrats could move to eliminate the filibuster if all of their members vote in favor of the move. However, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have vowed that they would not vote in favor of getting rid of the filibuster.

However, Manchin has signaled that he may be open to changing the rules of the filibuster.

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