Warner regrets Harry Reid's filibuster change: 'I wish we wouldn't even have started this'

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Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Sunday he regrets that his party opened the door to changing the filibuster, even as he sounded open to changing it further to exempt voting rights legislation from the 60-vote legislative threshold.

When asked whether President Biden should support eliminating the filibuster, Warner pointed out that Democratic leadership in the Senate was the first in 2013 to enact what’s been dubbed the “nuclear option.” 

“I would wish we wouldn’t even have started this a decade ago. When the Democratic leaders actually changed the rules, I don’t think we would have the Supreme Court we did if we still had a 60-vote margin on the filibuster, but we are where we are,” Warren told host Martha McCallum on “Fox News Sunday.” “And the idea that somehow to protect the rights of the minority in the Senate, we’re going to cut out rights of minorities and young people all across the country – that’s just not right to me.”

Warner was referencing actions taken by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in 2013 to push through the so-called “nuclear option,” which lowered the Senate vote threshold from 60 to just 51 votes to confirm most presidential nominations – except for the Supreme Court. Reid made the move after Senate Republicans mounted filibusters against several nominees brought by former President Barack Obama for the court of appeals, the Department of Defense and the National Labor Relations Board. 

DEMOCRATS CALLING FOR FILIBUSTER ELIMINATION ‘HYPOCRITES,’ GOP CHAIR SAYS 

Republicans five years later pushed the filibuster line even further. 

After Democrats mounted a filibuster in 2017 to oppose former President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination, Neil Gorsuch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., implemented his own nuclear option, also lowering the threshold for Supreme Court nominees to a simple majority vote.

Two additional Trump Supreme Court nominees, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, became justices under the new rule. 

“I don’t want the Senate to become like the House,” Warner said Sunday. “But I do believe when it comes to voting rights, when it comes to that basic right to exercise and participate in democracy, I get very worried what’s happening in some of these states where they are actually penalizing, saying if you give somebody water waiting in line to vote, or in states like Texas where they’re saying a local government can overcome the results of a local election. That is not democracy, and if we have to do a small carve out on filibuster for voting rights – that is the only area where I’d allow that kind of reform.”

Republicans in June blocked the For the People Act with a filibuster, claiming the sweeping election law represents a federal infringement on states’ authority to conduct their own elections without fraud.

Progressives have called on Biden to abolish the legislative filibuster to pass a big voting rights bill. But doing so would only “throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done,” Biden argued during a recent CNN town hall. 

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Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report. 

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