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Where 2020 Democrats stand on ending the Senate filibuster

This image is a four-way split screen of Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Jay Inslee, and Bernie Sanders.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Photo: Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Jay Inslee are leading the charge to abolish the Senate filibuster, while most other 2020 Democratic candidates are either keeping their distance from the issue or still figuring out their stance.

Why it matters: Killing the filibuster is likely the only way Democrats could actually advance most of the progressive policies 2020 candidates are promising, even if they secured unified control of Washington — because almost every bill gets filibustered in the Senate, and Democrats won't reach a 60-seat supermajority necessary to break a Republican filibuster.

Want Senate to eliminate the filibuster

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): "For generations, the filibuster was used as a tool to block progress on racial justice. And in recent years, it’s been used by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything. ... we should get rid of the filibuster.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee: “I do believe that the time for the filibuster has come and gone. 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.”

Want Senate to keep the filibuster

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.): “We should not be doing anything to mess with the strength of the filibuster." Also, he said he would "personally resist” efforts to get rid of it.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.): “I'm not crazy about getting rid of the filibuster."

Mixed messages

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): "I’m conflicted, to be honest with you."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): “Having just lived through being in the minority and how destructive the 51-vote threshold has been for Supreme Court justices, I just want to think long and hard about it.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: "We should consider it. I mean, that’s something the senators have to figure out but it’s got to be on the table because our sense of fair play among Democrats has bitten us far too many times for us to be naive about it."

The bottom line: Any change to the Senate filibuster would have to be implemented by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has opposed the move so far, per Politico. Regardless, the issue is still encouraging campaign talk on hot-button policies that haven't been seen before.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidates