Sen. Martin Heinrich said during a town hall with progressives in Nob Hill on Monday that he wants to make major changes to the Senate filibuster rule – but he acknowledged that those changes will someday allow the GOP to create laws he disagrees with.
The New Mexico Democrat said that partisan gridlock has made it so Americans can’t tell the difference between the two major political parties because legislation can’t get passed, which is why he’s willing to change Senate rules to make it easier to pass most bills.
“As much as I know that, at some point, (Republicans) are going to do things that I absolutely disagree with, on climate, on choice, on really important stuff,” Heinrich said, “it is just as important to begin to have the feedback with the American people to tell the difference between the two parties. Elections will have consequences.”
Heinrich’s remarks came during his appearance at a meeting hosted by Indivisible Nob Hill, a group that advocates for progressive political values.
Filibuster reform was brought up several times during the event.
Democrats currently control the White House and the House of Representatives. The Senate is evenly split, with the vice president giving Democrats a narrow advantage. But Republicans can still block most legislation because of a rule requiring 60 senators to vote to end debate on most matters.
Heinrich said there are several ways Democrats could attempt to change or reform the rule. One, for example, is to make changes so lawmakers will have to be physically present on the Senate floor and personally speak in order to block a vote.
“When we are in the majority, we are going to pass things like the child tax credit and make it permanent, and deal with climate change and respect women, and workers and educators,” he said. “That’s why I am willing to accept the risk.”
Pamela Rogers, a member of Indivisible Santa Fe who made the trip to Nob Hill to hear Heinrich, said she thought the senator’s filibuster comments were his most interesting of the night. New Mexico’s senior senator also talked about climate change goals, infrastructure legislation and voting rights.
Rogers said that climate change is placing the planet in danger and laws passed in some states in recent months could make it difficult for her party to keep its current control in Washington. But, in order for Democrats to address the matters she cares about the most, she said they have to be able to get legislation to the president’s desk.
“We have to get legislation through,” she said. “Now is the time, and we have to take that risk.”