President Barack Obama came out for eliminating “routine” Senate filibusters in an interview with Vox published Monday.
He said the regular use of the 60-vote requirement by Senate minorities makes it arcane in an era of partisan polarization, and that it “almost ensures greater gridlock and less clarity in terms of the positions of the parties.”
Obama, whose presidency has coincided with the dramatic escalation of filibusters, noted that there’s “nothing in the Constitution that” protects the blocking tactic.
Though he has typically been mum about Senate rules, Obama benefited greatly from Senate Democrats’ move in 2013 to eliminate the filibuster for most executive branch and judicial nominations. It remains in place for Supreme Court nominations and legislation.
Here’s the relevant quote by Obama, via Vox, in response to a question about how to govern amidst polarization.
Probably the one thing that we could change without a constitutional amendment that would make a difference here would be the elimination of the routine use of the filibuster in the Senate. Because I think that does, in an era in which the parties are more polarized, it almost ensures greater gridlock and less clarity in terms of the positions of the parties. There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires it. The framers were pretty good about designing a House, a Senate, two years versus six-year terms, every state getting two senators. There were a whole bunch of things in there to assure that a majority didn’t just run rampant. The filibuster in this modern age probably just torques it too far in the direction of a majority party not being able to govern effectively and move forward its platform. And I think that’s an area where we can make some improvement.