WASHINGTON ― Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), a climate hawk and likely 2020 presidential candidate, on Monday came out forcefully for eliminating the filibuster.
“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.”
Inslee, 68, is two years into his second term as governor of Washington, and served last year as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. On Sunday, he hinted at a presidential run in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation,” saying he could announce a candidacy primarily focused on addressing the harmful effects of climate change as soon as this week.
The debate over whether to eliminate the filibuster in 2020 has heated up in recent weeks as more Democratic candidates have entered the field. Even if Democrats win the White House and Senate in 2020, major progressive policy proposals such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal would likely face a GOP blockade without a change to the Senate’s longstanding 60-vote threshold on legislation.
But most of the declared or likely Democratic candidates either outright oppose eliminating the filibuster, or have equivocated when asked whether they could support doing so.
“I’m conflicted, to be honest with you,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told reporters over the weekend, avoiding taking a direct stance on the question.
Even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has proposed ambitious ideas for tackling rising health care costs, a warming climate and the stagnant minimum wage, balked at the idea.
“No, I’m not crazy about getting rid of the filibuster,” Sanders said in an interview last week.
Inslee’s remarks Monday constitute one of the clearest answers yet from a possible 2020 contender on the matter.
“I believe the world is now moving at a pace that does not accept sort of antebellum traditions. And that’s what this is,” he said. “It’s just a tradition that came when the spittoon was in place, and now we’re in an internet age and moving at the speed of light. We’ve got to be able to move this country.”
Inslee, a former member of the House, argued that senators “need to put their personal sort of fiefdoms that they think that they enjoy aside to getting basic democracy.” He said he feels similar changes are needed to address the Electoral College, “which I think needs to pass into history, and people’s votes ought to count.”
Only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another 2020 contender, has declined to rule out moving to eliminate the filibuster if she gets the chance as president.
“My answer on that is all the options are on the table, that that’s how we gotta do this,” Warren said on “Pod Save America” last week. “If the Republicans are going to try to block us on key pieces that we’re trying to move forward, then you better believe we gotta keep all the options on the table.”