SF Chronicle: California Sen. Alex Padilla doubles down on support to end filibuster: ‘Patience is going to wear thin’
By Tatiana Sanchez
California Sen. Alex Padilla reiterated his support Sunday for eliminating the filibuster, following narrow Senate passage of a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill on Saturday.
“If we continue to see obstruction from our Republican colleagues as we saw through this COVID relief package, then I think the patience is going to wear thin, even on moderate Democrats,” Padilla said on CNN’s “Inside Politics.”
“In the meantime we’ll exercise as many options as we can, whether it’s through straight legislation, budget reconciliation or otherwise, to continue to make progress.”
A filibuster allows senators to delay or block a vote on a bill, often by significantly extending a debate. It effectively requires 60 votes to end debate and pass most legislation. To pass the COVID relief bill, Democrats used the reconciliation process, which instead allows a simple majority vote.
Eliminating the filibuster would require support from Democrats who have defended it, such as California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin raised late objections to the unemployment provisions in the COVID relief bill, resulting in a call from President Biden to secure his vote.
Manchin said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would not change his mind about the filibuster, though he did express openness to making it “a little bit more painful,” such as requiring lawmakers to appear on the floor for marathon speeches.
Padilla told CNN that voting rights may be the issue worth eliminating the filibuster for, along with other “strong contenders” such as climate change, health care and voting rights.
“For me, voting rights is very personal,” said Padilla, who served as California secretary of state for six years before Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him in December to the Senate seat vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris. “I spent my prior six years … advancing the model, not just for maintaining the security and integrity of our elections but maximizing access to the ballot, from the registration side to the voting side. It’s a model that I think would serve the country great.”
“It’s not about Democrats, it’s not about Republicans, it’s about our democracy,” he continued.
The 50-49 vote on the COVID relief package was the Biden administration’s first major legislative victory and will provide $1,400 payments to most Americans and extended emergency unemployment benefits of $300 per week.
The bill now returns to the House for a final vote.
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