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Bernie Sanders Tells Democrats To Go Nuclear and Break the GOP’s UI Benefits Filibuster

Sen. Bernie Sanders has a solution to ending the Republican filibuster of the unemployment benefits extension. He thinks Democrats should go nuclear and pass the extension with just 50 votes.


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Alex Wagner asked Sen. Sanders if he thought that Democrats had done something wrong in opening the door to pay fors or if this was just the cost of doing business with the Republicans.

Sen. Sanders answered,

Well, I think as you’ve just indicated, and everybody’s got to understand, when George W. Bush was president we extended long term unemployment on five separate occasions. The Republicans at that point did not ask for any offsets at that time, and that should be what should be what we are doing right now. This is a state of emergency. 1.4 million people who have very little to live upon.

My own view, and it’s a fairly radical view here within the Senate, is that what we should do is say you know what? We’re going to require 50 votes, a majority. We’re going to overcome the Republican filibuster. We don’t need to have to get 60 votes for every single piece of legislation designed to help working families. Whether it’s extending unemployment benefits or raising the minimum wage, majority should rule.

It isn’t a coincidence that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hinted at something very similar to what Sen. Sanders suggested recently. While appearing on the January 5th edition of CBS’ Face The Nation, Reid left the door open to eliminating all filibusters if Republicans don’t stop obstructing everything. The more Senate Republicans obstruct common sense things like helping the unemployed, the louder the calls are going to get for Democrats to permanently end the Republicans’ tactic of filibustering legislation.

Sanders’ idea isn’t as radical as he thinks it is. Rationality and negotiation have both failed with these Republicans so Democrats need to speak the language of brute force.

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