WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule likely imperils a bill intended to protect abortion rights that Democrats are readying following the Supreme Court’s decision not to block a strict new Texas ban, a leading Democratic senator said on Sunday.
Senator Amy Klobuchar told CNN’s “State of the Union” that some Senate Republicans support abortion rights but not enough to overcome the chamber’s rule requiring 60 of its 100 members to agree on most legislation.
The nation’s 6-3 conservative top court this week allowed Texas’ six-week abortion ban to go into effect, which observers said showed the justices may be ready to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a national right to abortion.
That decision led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to declare that the Democratic-controlled chamber will soon debate and vote on legislation aimed at stopping similar state anti-abortion regulations. But Klobuchar said that bill faces little to no chance of passing the Senate.
“My solution to this … I believe we should abolish the filibuster,” Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Rules Committee, told CNN. “I do not believe an archaic rule should be used to allow us to put our heads in the sand … and not take action on these important issues … We just will get nowhere if we keep this filibuster in place.”
Progressive Democrats have repeatedly over the past year suggested doing away with the filibuster to allow other Democratic priorities to pass, including a voting rights bill intended to counteract a wave of new voting restrictions passed by Republican-governed states.
Senate moderates, including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, have rejected that idea, however.
Klobuchar said one way to discourage the frequency of filibusters would be to make senators who object to ending debate actually stay on the floor debating. This “talking filibuster” was the tradition until the 1970s.
She said another approach would be a “carveout” that would only change the filibuster for legislation directly tied to one subject, such as abortion rights.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)