Sen. Richard Durbin backs return to talking filibuster: ‘Right now they phone it in’

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Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin on Sunday called for a return to the “talking filibuster” as frustrated Democrats seek to chip away at the ability of minority Senate Republicans to block legislation.

Under a talking filibuster, senators would need to take to the Senate floor and keep up a steady stream of verbiage to stop a vote on legislation, instead of simply signaling their intent to hold up a bill in what is known as a silent filibuster.

“I certainly support the talking filibuster as proof positive that if someone cares enough to stop the Senate in its tracks, to say to the Senate, ‘You cannot even consider the measure that is before you” — is it too much to ask them to stand at their desk to show that personal commitment?” Mr. Durbin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

President Biden endorsed last week requiring a talking filibuster as Democrats seek to take advantage of a Democratic House and the White House to pass sweeping legislation on immigration, elections, gun control and other hot-button issues.

Under Senate rules, 60 votes are required for cloture to stop any kind of filibuster, a high bar in the current 50-50 split Senate.

“Right now they phone it in. They call the cloakroom, the room right off the floor of the Senate chamber, and say, I think I’m going to do a filibuster, stop that bill on the floor, and that’s all it takes now,” Mr. Durbin said. “Some senators start a filibuster on Friday, go home for the weekend, and come back on Monday to see how they’re doing.”

Mr. Durbin broached last week the issue of filibuster reform, saying that he would consider “any proposal that ends the misuse of the filibuster as a weapon of mass obstruction.”

He hasn’t always been a filibuster foe. A few years ago, when Republicans controlled the Senate, Mr. Durbin said that ending the filibuster would be “the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our founding fathers. We have to acknowledge a respect for the minority.”

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin on supporting the call from Pres. Biden to bring back the talking filibuster rule: “If we’re gonna require 60 votes on a filibuster, you better show a commitment, a personal commitment, to that.” https://t.co/23BCZeWDT4 #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/NaFFH9Lnjh


— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) March 21, 2021

He said that he hoped Republicans would join Democrats in agreeing to return to the days of the talking filibuster.

“I’d like to see both sides come together and say, this is reasonable, a talking filibuster, a personal commitment, is reasonable,” Mr. Durbin said.

Calls to eliminate the filibuster entirely are rising on the left. Sen. Tina Smith, Minnesota Democrat, said earlier this month that she supports abolishing the filibuster.

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