Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy ducked a question on the filibuster after saying twice that he did not want to do so.
Leahy made an appearance Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Hallie Jackson Reports,” where host Hallie Jackson challenged him directly on the possibility that Democrats could suspend the filibuster in order to pass the For the People Act (HR-1). (RELATED: ‘You’ve Used It Too’: Jake Tapper Corners Democratic Senator On Claim That Filibuster Is ‘Corrupt’ And ‘Abused’ By Republicans)
Jackson began by noting that Leahy had kept his opinion on the filibuster pretty closely guarded, and asked directly what he thought of proposals to suspend the rules specifically for one legislative measure.
“Texas Democrats right now are in Washington making a specific ask,” Jackson said. “They’re not saying ‘blow up the filibuster,’ they’re saying ‘do a carve-out specifically on voting rights, change the Senate rules just on this topic.’ So, do you support that? Yes or no, senator?”
“That’s a very interesting proposition. I don’t — I’m not trying to duck your question,” Leahy replied, pivoting to argue that when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had changed rules wen he had control of the Senate.
“He blocked for a year a Supreme Court Justice saying we can’t have it that close to the election and rammed one through in a couple weeks when there was a Republican in the White House,” Leahy continued. “So I’m not trying to duck your question. The caucus is meeting on this. I’m going to wait and give my views in the caucus.”
Leahy then suggested that the voting reform legislation — particularly in Texas — was a Republican effort to “block Democrats and African Americans from voting.”
“Senator, I know you said you don’t want to duck the question, respectfully as you noted, you kind of are,” Jackson pushed back, pointing out the fact that he had not really answered her question. “Do you at least know what your position is even if you’re going to choose not to reveal it? Have you made a decision on whether you support that very narrow carve-out?”
“No, that’s a fair question. I have not, I want to hear what the arguments are,” Leahy replied. “I want to know what is possible.”