2020 Vision: Warren calls for end to filibuster in Senate

Dylan Stableford
Senior Writer

Welcome to 2020 Vision, the new Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 304 days until the Iowa caucuses, and 577 days until the 2020 presidential election.

[Who’s running for president? Click here for Yahoo News’ 2020 tracker]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Friday endorsed eliminating the legislative filibuster in the Senate if Democrats take the White House. Speaking at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference in New York City, Warren framed the maneuver in a racial lens, pointing out that a bill to make lynching a federal crime took a century to pass the Senate because of filibusters by “a small group of racists” — and went on to discuss Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s tactics in bogging down nominations to federal positions by former President Barack Obama.

“I’m not running for president just to talk about making real structural change, I’m serious about getting it done. And part of getting it done means waking up to the reality of the United States Senate,” Warren said. “So let me be as clear as I can about this: When Democrats next have power, we should be bold. We are done with two sets of rules, one for the Republicans and one for the Democrats. And that means when the Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama and put small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems in this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster.”

The crowd applauded.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the National Action Network conference in New York City on Friday. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

With the legislative filibuster in place, legislation needs 60 votes to pass the Senate, while abolishing it would mean bills could pass with a simple majority. (Sixty-vote thresholds to confirm lower court and Supreme Court justices have been rolled back in recent years.) Supporters of the filibuster say it helps foster bipartisanship, while critics have said it’s simply a tool for enabling obstructionism. Warren is the first major candidate to call for its abolition — her fellow Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have expressed skepticism at the idea — although Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a dark horse in the race, called for its removal in February.

“I do believe that the time for the filibuster has come and gone,” Inslee told HuffPost. “It was an artifact of a bygone era that is not in the U.S. Constitution, and somehow it got grafted on in this culture of the Senate.” — Christopher Wilson

Reparation study

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the 2019 National Action Network conference in New York City on Friday. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Elizabeth Warren wasn’t the only 2020 candidate to appear at the NAN conference. In fact, 13 presidential hopefuls took the stage this week at Al Sharpton’s annual event. And each of them was pressed on a key issue that has emerged in this very early stage of the 2020 campaign: paying slavery reparations to African-Americans.

One by one Sharpton asked the candidates whether they would pledge to sign a bill, proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, to form a committee to study reparations if elected president. And they all did.

When I’m elected president, I will sign that bill,” Kamala Harris said, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.

Even Bernie Sanders, who last month told a New York radio station that he was a “no” on reparations, said he would support the formation of a committee to study the issue.

“Of course I would sign it,” Sanders said.

But he also said that “real attention” needs to be paid to “the most distressed communities in America.”

“We have got to use at least 10 percent of all federal funds to make sure that kids who need it get the education, get the jobs, get the environmental protection that they need,” Sanders said. “We have to take on the racial disparities which exist in this country.”

“This is not about kissing my ring or Al Sharpton the kingmaker, this is about mainstreaming the question of racial divide in America.”

— Al Sharpton at the National Action Network’s annual conference, where 13 presidential candidates appeared this week

Hug jokes

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers conference in Washington on Friday. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

In his first public appearance since facing allegations from seven women who say he touched them in unwelcome ways, former Vice President Joe Biden hugged a union president — and made a joke about it.

“I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie,” Biden said after being introduced by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers president Lonnie Stephenson (a man) at the union’s annual conference in Washington, D.C, on Friday.

Later Biden hugged a boy who was brought on stage to meet him.

“By the way, he gave me permission to touch him,” Biden said.

Speaking to reporters outside the conference following his speech, Biden addressed the allegations against him.

“I literally think it is incumbent upon me, I think everybody else, to make sure that if you embrace someone, you touch someone, it is with their consent, regardless of your intentions,” he said.

Joe Biden calls out to supporters after speaking at the IBEW conference Friday. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Biden also said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if more women came forward with allegations against him, but that he’s had “hundreds and hundreds” of people contact him to “say the exact opposite.”

The 76-year-old said the complaints will change the way he campaigns.

“It is important that I and everyone else is aware that any woman or man who feels uncomfortable should have the right to say, ‘Hey, I’m uncomfortable with that,‘” he said, adding: “I’m sorry I didn’t understand more. I’m not sorry for any of my intentions.”

Biden’ his time

Biden was also asked about his all-but-certain potential presidential bid. “I’m told by the lawyers that I’ve got to be careful with what I say so I don’t start a clock ticking and change my status,” he replied. “But I am very close to making a decision to stand before you all relatively soon.”

He added: “My intention from the beginning if I were to run was to be the last person to announce. And so, give everybody else their day, and then I get a shot and then off to the races.”

“I don’t see Joe Biden as a threat. I think he’s only a threat to himself.”

— President Trump on Friday when asked whether he considers the former vice president a threat to his reelection

President Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

Town hall crawl

Next week, CNN is hosting back-to-back-to-back presidential town halls: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on Tuesday; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday; and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro on Thursday. All are scheduled to air at 10 p.m. ET.

Speaking of town halls, Fox News stirred a bit of controversy this week, announcing that it will host a presidential town hall with democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on April 15. Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will moderate the one-hour event live from Bethlehem, Pa., beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

“WTF is Bernie doing?” asked Ian Millhiser, a columnist with the liberal news site ThinkProgress. Well, for one thing, Bernie’s doing exactly what he did in 2016, when he appeared alongside Hillary Clinton at a Fox News town hall. And the Democratic National Committee, which announced that Fox will not host any of its 2020 debates, gave Bernie its blessing.

“While the DNC does not believe that FOX is equipped to be a partner for a 2020 debate because of concerns of fairness at the highest levels within their organization, the DNC believes that we must reach all voters, including their audience,” a DNC spokesperson said in a statement. “Therefore, candidates should do what they need to do in order to engage these voters directly.”

“It is important to distinguish Fox News from the many millions of people who watch Fox News. And I think it is important to talk to those people and say, ‘You know what? I know that many of you voted for Donald Trump, but he lied to you.’”

— Bernie Sanders on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah”

Bernie’s haul, Buttigieg’s bounty

Pete Buttigieg speaks at the National Action Network conference in New York City on Thursday. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Hoping to solidify their positions as top-tier candidates in the eyes of voters, the Democratic presidential hopefuls began releasing first-quarter fundraising totals this week, ahead of an April 15 deadline set by the Federal Election Commission.

The early numbers show that Bernie Sanders took in $18.2 million in donations in the first three months of the year, including $5.9 million in the first day after his announcement. Kamala Harris raised $12 million for the quarter, and Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Ind., boasted just over $7 million in donations for his presidential bid.

The 12 other Democrats who have announced their candidacies have yet to release first-quarter totals, but in the 24-hour period following their entry into the race, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke bested Sanders with an impressive $6.1 million haul. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Gov. John Hickenlooper both said their campaigns took in one-day donations of $1 million. — David Knowles

Who else is running?

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, announced his 2020 bid on ABC’s “The View” on Thursday. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., is expected to do the same on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS next week. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is leaning toward jumping into 2020 race and is likely to declare next month, CNN reports. And Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost her race for Georgia governor last year, is not ruling out a run for either the U.S. Senate — or the White House.

“I am thinking about it. I truly am.”

— Stacey Abrams on MSNBC on a possible presidential bid

Then-Vice President Joe Biden talks to customers, including a woman who pulled up her chair in front of the bench Biden was sitting on, during a stop at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio, in 2012. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Weekend forecast

Des Moines

• Friday, April 5: Cloudy, 65°/47°

• Saturday, April 6: Cloudy, 73°/54°

• Sunday, April 7: Showers, 72°/46°

Manchester, N.H.

• Friday, April 5: Cloudy, 47°/36°

• Saturday, April 6: Partly cloudy, 63°/39°

• Sunday, April 7: Mostly cloudy, 65°/41°

Source: Weather Underground


Read more 2020 coverage from Yahoo News: