During the funeral service for the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Thursday, Obama criticized the filibuster — which requires a 60-vote threshold to proceed with legislation — as he reflected on all that Lewis fought for throughout his career.
“If all this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do,” Obama said on Thursday at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
See Obama’s remarks below:
In John Lewis eulogy, Obama calls for making Election Day a federal holiday, giving equal representation to citizens in Washington, D.C. & Puerto Rico, ending partisan gerrymandering, and eliminating the filibuster if it interferes with Americans' rights https://t.co/wrzcAjBNnU pic.twitter.com/409VCgG4Bp— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 30, 2020
Shortly after Obama’s eulogy at Lewis’ funeral, Sanders released a statement in support of the former president’s arguments.
“President Obama is absolutely right,” Sanders said in a statement. “It is an outrage that modern-day poll taxes, gerrymandering, I.D. requirements, and other forms of voter suppression still exist today.”
The Vermont senator also called for a “comprehensive agenda” to ensure equal rights for the American people.
He added, “We must pass a comprehensive agenda to guarantee the rights and dignity of everyone in this country. And that means, among other things, reauthorizing and expanding the Voting Rights Act, for which Congressman John Lewis put his life on the line.”
Full statement from @SenSanders on eliminating the filibuster:— Josh Orton (@joshorton) July 30, 2020
"President Obama is absolutely right. It is an outrage that modern-day poll taxes, gerrymandering, I.D. requirements, and other forms of voter suppression still exist today…" 1/
"As President Obama said, if that requires us to eliminate the filibuster, then that is what we must do." 3/3— Josh Orton (@joshorton) July 30, 2020
Despite Democratic calls for an end to the filibuster, Republican lawmakers have opposed doing so. Just a few weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered his take on the Democrats’ push.
According to the Republican lawmaker, eliminating the filibuster would be a mistake, as previously reported on IJR.
“The important thing for our Democratic friends to remember is that you may not be in total control in the future, and anytime you start fiddling around with the rules of the Senate, I think you always need to put yourself in the other fellow’s shoes and just imagine what might happen when the wind shifts,” McConnell said.
The filibuster is “a political strategy in which a senator speaks—or threatens to speak—for hours on end to delay efforts to vote for a bill. The unusual tactic takes advantage of a U.S. Senate rule that says a senator, once recognized on the floor, may speak on an issue without being impeded by anyone,” according to History.