In an interview for Wednesday’s episode of the “Pod Save America” podcast, Booker expanded on his long-held reservations about changing the Senate rules allowing contentious legislation to advance without needing 60 votes to get past procedural hurdles.
“And so when you talk about changing the filibuster rule I understand that we are heading, right now, we are heading that way, to people on both sides. We are heading that way,” Booker told host Jon Favreau. “You hear Trump calling for the end of the filibuster rule all the time and I understand that if I am the commander in chief, the President of the United States, fighting a tactical battle that that is something we are moving towards.
“But understand my perspective on this which comes from decades of living in one of the most vulnerable communities in the country. And if Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump for the last two years had complete sway they wouldn’t have just changed policy, which is nice. They would have hurt people in my community,” Booker said.
Some progressives have been pushing Democratic presidential candidates — especially current senators — to stake out a position supporting rules changes, and Booker’s on-the-record position has gone beyond reluctance.
Booker said that if the Republican-controlled Senate were able to move legislation unchecked, they could take policy positions, “that could cause people’s death.” He then referenced ongoing GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Booker was among the signatories on a May 2017 letter in which 61 senators wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York opposing changes to the legislative filibuster.
McConnell has repeatedly said the legislative filibuster will not be going anywhere on his watch.
Aside from the filibuster, Booker has had other expedited procedures on his mind. He said on the podcast that he would seek to upend the 2018 tax cuts through the same budget reconciliation process, the same way Trump and congressional Republicans put them into effect without needing Democratic vote.
“I want people to know very tactically — Let’s talk tactics — I will use reconciliation to roll back the Trump tax credits and do the kind of things that I think, to have a tax system that reflects our values, our morals and frankly is better for our economy,” he said.
Of course, using reconciliation (or changing the filibuster rules) also would require a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate to be useful to Booker or any other potential Democratic president in 2021.