- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2021

Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday said she was open to changing the Senate’s filibuster rules, joining President Biden and a growing chorus of Democrats in favor of rewriting the rules to ram through their agenda over Republican objections.

The drastic step could be necessary, she said, if Republicans block progress on pressing issues such as gun control and hate crimes.

“There are many significant issues Congress needs to address. Just this week we saw a union of gun violence, violence against women and hate crimes in the tragic shootings in Atlanta,” said Ms. Feinstein, California Democrat.

She backed a plan to chip away at the rules bit by bit, an approach that is gaining popularity among Democrats.

Democrats want to change the rules to achieve big goals such as an overhaul of election and immigration laws now that they control the White House and both chambers of Congress but see their agenda stymied in the Senate.

The rules require legislation to clear a 60-vote threshold to survive. That’s enough to kill most bills in the Senate that is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

Ms. Feinstien, who has been in the Senate for nearly 30 years, said she didn’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 said.

Ms. Feinstein endorsed an idea floated by Mr. Biden earlier this week to restore the talking filibuster, which would require senators to hold the floor by giving a nonstop speech to prevent legislation from advancing.

It would still take 60 votes to cut off debate but it would put the onus on Republicans to talk a bill to death.

The party’s far-left wing, including Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, support the nuclear option of ending the filibuster and passing bills with a simple majority vote.

The Democrats need the support of all their 50 senators and the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to implement a rule change. They don’t have the votes to end the filibuster but are gaining ground on the talking filibuster.

Sen. Joe Manchin III, the most conservative Democrat in the chamber and an opponent of ending the filibuster, endorsed the talking filibuster option.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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