Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday that his changing position on the Senate filibuster is necessary to make sure that Congress could “produce something.”
Durbin explained his position to CNN’s Dana Bash during an interview on “State of the Union,” arguing that a change to filibuster rules would force senators to commit rather than “phone it in” to stop bills they don’t like. (RELATED: ‘I Would Talk ‘Til I Fell Over’ — Lindsey Graham Responds To Biden’s Idea Of Bringing Back Talking Filibuster)
Bash began by noting the change in the way Durbin appeared to view the filibuster, saying of his recent floor speech, “At one point you call it a weapon of mass destruction.”
She then played a clip of Durbin defending the filibuster from a few years earlier, in which he claimed that the end of the filibuster “would be the end of the Senate as it was devised and created going back to our founding fathers. We have to acknowledge a respect for the minority.”
“So the obvious question is whether the shoe is on the other foot now in majority, that’s why you want to get your agenda passed, that’s why you have a change of heart?” Bash pressed Durbin.
“Dana, what I said on the Senate floor is not a threat. It’s a challenge to senators in both political parties,” Durbin said, suggesting that whether or not the Senate could “produce something” was the metric by which the filibuster should be judged. “Prove to me under the current rules, with the filibuster, requiring 60 votes we can produce something.”
Durbin used the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border and calls for immigration reform as an example, adding, “Can we do it? Well, if 10 come forward and join all the Democrats, yes. It’s a challenge to my colleagues, make it work. Right now, we know the 60-vote requirement can stop the Senate from meaningful activity.”
Bash went on to ask whether Durbin would support a rule change to the “talking filibuster” — which would require senators to actually hold the floor and would delay any other Senate actions until it was broken.
“Just to be clear to our viewers, that would change the process, but it wouldn’t change the outcome, right?” Bash asked. “You’re still gonna need 60 votes. So will that need to happen? Will you need to change the 60-vote threshold and will you have the votes to do that?”
“I certainly support the talking filibuster as proof positive if someone cares enough to stop the Senate in its tracks, to say to the Senate that you cannot even consider what’s before you. Is it too much to ask them to stand at their desk to show them that personal commitment,” Durbin replied. “Right now they phone it in, they call the cloak room, the room right off the floor of the Senate chamber and say, yes, I think I will do a filibuster. Stop the bill on the floor. That’s all it takes. Some start on Friday and go home for the weekend and come back on Monday to see how they’re doing.”