Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar: Democrats Must ‘Grow a Backbone’ and ‘Abolish the Filibuster’

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill, July 15, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) on Thursday urged Democrats to “grow a backbone” and abolish the Senate filibuster.

The progressive “Squad” member suggested in a tweet that the party should not follow in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama’s administration, which failed to pass sweeping reforms when Democrats had full control over Congress and the White House.

“Democrats can’t repeat the mistake of 2009, we must abolish the filibuster & move legislation that helps us deliver progress for the American people,” Omar wrote. “Let’s grow a backbone.”

Omar’s comments came in response to a statement by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) one day earlier in which he said “100 percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration.”

In March, Democrats used budget reconciliation to pass President Biden’s COVID response package without Republican support, a move that elicited much criticism from the GOP after the president had repeatedly touted bipartisanship as one of his priorities.

Democrats, however, have defended the decision to push the bill through, likening Republicans to roadblocks to progress.

“Please stop asking us about bipartisanship when this is what the leader of the other party is focused on,” Omar responded to McConnell’s statement. 

Biden, however, seemed unconcerned by the GOP leader’s comment.

“Look, he said that in our last administration with Barack — he was going to stop everything — and I was able to get a lot done with him,” Biden said.

As the slim Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress could potentially be wiped out by the 2022 midterms, progressives are calling on moderate Democrats, including Senators Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) to support efforts to end the filibuster now.

Without the 60-vote threshold, Democrats could potentially pass a number of their legislative ambitions, such as a voting-rights bill, D.C. statehood, and police reform, with a simple majority vote.

Meanwhile, the Election Transparency Initiative, a group formed to fight congressional Democrats’ election-law proposals, announced a new ad campaign on Wednesday urging Senators Manchin, Sinema, and Jon Tester (D., Mont.) to keep the filibuster intact.

All three senators have expressed opposition to abandoning the filibuster.

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