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Politics & Policy

Feinstein on the Filibuster

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 15, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

In response to Dianne Feinstein’s Overnight Filibuster Flip-Flop

On Thursday, California senator Dianne Feinstein told National Review she still supports the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for legislation. “It’s there and you deal with it, and you find you can deal with it,” Feinstein said of the filibuster. Asked if there was anything Senate Republicans could do to get Feinstein to support changing the rule to 51 votes, she replied: “I haven’t gone that far in my thinking, because I just know that votes aren’t there to do it.”

As Phil Klein noted over the weekend, Feinstein’s office released a statement late Friday night in which she said that if some bills could not be passed that she’s “open to changing the way the Senate filibuster rules are used.”

As a matter of tone and emphasis, the difference between Feinstein’s Thursday comments and Friday press release was striking. But the statement released Friday night by her staff seems more like an attempt to placate progressive activists than an outright abandonment of her position.  

In the Friday night statement, she did not refer to doing away with the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. Specifically, Feinstein said on Friday that “President Biden this week suggested returning to a talking filibuster so opponents of a bill must speak on the Senate floor and explain their opposition. That is an idea worth discussing. I don’t want to turn away from Senate traditions, but I also don’t believe one party should be able to prevent votes on important bills by abusing the filibuster.”

I highly doubt Dianne Feinstein would be the lone Democratic senator to save the 60-vote threshold from being abolished, but she hasn’t yet dropped her support for it.

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