Hillary Clinton: Eliminating legislative filibuster would make senators 'work together'

Clinton served in the Senate from 2001-2009

Updated: March 22, 2021 - 7:11pm

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that eliminating the legislative filibuster in the Senate would lead to bipartisanship.

Under existing Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to proceed to a final vote on legislation. Senate Democrats bypassed the rule for President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan using the budget reconciliation rule and passed it without votes from Republicans in the 50-50 Senate.

"I think that the filibuster has become a symbol of minority obstructionism as opposed to a cooling saucer parliamentary move to get people to work together, because there doesn't seem to be a lot of appetite," Clinton said during a discussion organized by the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Even when I was there, no, we actually had a legislative process," she continued. "We would have committee hearings, people would show up, witnesses would show up, we would mark up bills, we would go to the floor, we would have real debate. That's all gone. I mean, the only thing that (Senate Republican leader) Mitch McConnell wanted to do was, you know, cut taxes, and then confirm judges. The rest of the business of being in the Senate, basically, was just put aside."

Eliminating the legislative filibuster would mean bills could pass with a simple majority of 51 votes. In the current session of Congress, Vice President Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote for Senate Democrats. 

Clinton, a New York Democratic senator from 2001-2009, said she wants to see "a real legislative process" come back to the Senate.

"If you thought you had to actually stand up and vote on something, you'd actually work to get an amendment to change it, as opposed to saying, 'I don't even have to think about it, I'm just going to show up, and I'm going to be part of a filibuster;' that doesn't inspire cooperation. It just keeps people in their separate camps," said the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. "So I think it's gonna take a little bit of change in order to get to where people have to work together. And surprisingly, in my own mind, I think getting rid of the filibuster will actually have that result."

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