Former President Bill Clinton joined Late Night With Seth Meyers Wednesday, where he weighed in on the prospect of getting rid of the filibuster. While there were already calls to end it, those calls grew louder after Senate Republicans put a stop to the possibility of even debating the For the People Act, the voting rights bill backed by Democrats.
“The filibuster was set up to ensure prolonged debate,” Clinton said. “It was used in the civil rights era to try to kill civil rights bills. Starting in about 1993 or 4, it started to be used all the time, and it was used on President Obama. It’s now been used to try to prevent a repeat of 2020 when we had the enormous voter participation.”
While many Democrats support ending the filibuster, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a deep red state, is staunchly against it. President Biden has also been hesitant to support getting rid of it. While Clinton said he’d suspend it, he expressed empathy for Biden’s and Manchin’s positions.
“I understand the president’s reluctant to get rid of it altogether,” Clinton said, “and I sympathize with Joe Manchin, who’s trying to, you know, stand up for the right thing and represent people that voted more than 2 to1 for President Trump. But I think when it comes to preserving democracy, you know, I would suspend the filibuster because I think it’s essential.”
Following the presidential election, amid countless lies about voter fraud and the election being stolen from Trump, Republican state legislators around the country introduced nearly 400 restrictive voting bills. Dozens have already been passed. Clinton addressed the urge by some GOP lawmakers to make voting harder.
“I don’t think that we should be in the business of going backwards in trying to drive down voting rights,” Clinton said. “I think we need to expand it, and I think that every time we’ve done it before, it’s made us a better country, made us a stronger country. And it’ll do both parties good to have to get out and compete for all these new voters.”
Clinton specifically called out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who recently said he’s 100% focused on stopping Biden’s agenda.
“These guys are trying to take us back decades in voting access,” Clinton said, “the people that Senator McConnell represents.”
Late Night With Seth Meyers airs weeknights at 12:35 a.m. on NBC.
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