Many of the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls disagree with him, but Washington State Governor Jay Inslee says it's time to say goodbye to the Senate filibuster, which effectively makes 60 votes the threshold for passing most legislation.
“I do believe that the time for the filibuster has come and gone,” Inslee said recently to HuffPost. “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.”
That stance will endear him to some on the left who've been calling for the filibuster to be abolished for some time. But others, like Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, have pointed out that after Republicans went "nuclear" on the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, Democrats found themselves helpless to stop Neil Gorsuch and Brent Kavanaugh from being confirmed with just 51 votes.
Obviously, ending the filibuster altogether would be attractive to some on the left at a time when a lot of Democrats think they may be in control of all three branches of government after 2020. It would potentially allow Democrats to get a lot done by simple majority votes.
But what if Democrats then find themselves back in the minority in the Senate in 2022? Allowing things to get done more quickly with simple Senate majority votes also means those things can be undone more quickly whenever control of Congress flips.
The filibuster isn't the only way that Inslee, who could announce his presidential candidacy this week, is distinguishing himself from the rest of the Democratic pack.
He's also making the fight against climate change the central cause of his potential run—while simultaneously throwing some shade at the Green New Deal's lack of specifics.
“This was not a policy document. It was really not meant to be,” Inslee said of the Green New Deal. “So now people like me will issue policies to actually put meat on the bones.”
But Inslee has been a part of more failures than successes when it comes to stopping carbon emissions. As The Washington Post notes:
As a congressman, Inslee was a key player in the push for a cap-and-trade system 10 years ago. A bill passed in the House but stalled in the Senate, even though Democrats had a near-filibuster-proof majority.
Last March, Inslee fought hard but failed to enact the nation’s first carbon tax in Washington state. He couldn’t whip the votes to pass the bill through his state’s Democratic-controlled legislature. This past November, voters in his state rejected a ballot initiative to impose a carbon fee on fossil fuel emissions. A separate push he spearheaded to cap emissions was blocked in the courts.
So what would Inslee do differently as president? He hasn't made that entirely clear.
But Inslee did tell The Post that if President Trump's use of an emergency order to grab money for a wall along the US-Mexico border is upheld by the courts, then President Inslee might be up for using the Oval Office to declare a national emergency around climate change.