Jul 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Obama endorses string of progressive policies during John Lewis eulogy

Barack Obama speaking at the funeral of late Rep. John Lewis.
Barack Obama speaking at the funeral of late Rep. John Lewis on July 30. Photo: Alyssa Pointer/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama endorsed a slew of progressive policies related to voting rights during his eulogy for the late Rep. John Lewis on Thursday, including abolishing the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: Revoking the Senate's long-standing 60-vote threshold used by senators to delay or block legislative action would significantly limit the minority party's power in the chamber.

The big picture ... Obama said removing the filibuster may be necessary to pass the following legislation:

  • Automatically registering Americans to vote
  • Making Election Day a federal holiday
  • Giving equal representation to citizens of Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico
  • Ending partisan gerrymandering
  • Restoring voting rights for convicted felons
  • Expanding early voting
  • Restoring the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act

What they're saying: "If all this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the god-given rights of every American, then that's what we should do," Obama said.

Between the lines: Obama's endorsement of eliminating the filibuster comes as Democrats are currently favored by the Cook Political Report to gain five to seven Senate seats, which could give them the majority needed to abolish the chamber rule.

  • Joe Biden has yet to concretely say if he would direct his Senate allies to pursue abolishing the filibuster if elected president.
  • He told the New York Times in July that it will "depend on how obstreperous they become,” referring to Republicans.

Go deeper ... Obama: "John Lewis will be a founding father" of America's better future

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