Former President Barack Obama called for the Senate to end the filibuster in order to advance voting rights legislation and statehood for Washington DC and Puerto Rico during his eulogy for the late Rep. John Lewis.
Obama, who once tried to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito as a senator in 2006, called the filibuster a “Jim Crow relic.”
“If all of this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do,” Obama said.
The idea of ending the filibuster has been a touchy subject among Senate Democrats. But Sen. Bernie Sanders, who opposed scrapping the filibuster during his two presidential campaigns, called on the Senate to do just that after Obama’s comments.
"President Obama is absolutely right. It is an outrage that modern-day poll taxes, gerrymandering, I.D. requirements, and other forms of voter suppression still exist today,” Sanders said. "We must pass a comprehensive agenda to guarantee the rights and dignity of everyone in this country. And that means, among other things, reauthorizing and expanding the Voting Rights Act, for which Congressman John Lewis put his life on the line."
Obama calls for Voting Right Act:
Obama made the comments while calling on Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act once again after the Supreme Court gutted it during his second term.
“I’m so grateful for the legacy and work of all the congressional leaders who are here. But there’s a better way than a statement calling him a hero,” Obama said of John Lewis. "You want to honor John? Let's honor him by revitalizing the law that he was willing to die for.”
"Naming it the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — that is a fine tribute," he added. "But John wouldn't want us to stop there."
Obama calls for DC, PR statehood:
“Once we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, we should keep marching to make it even better,” Obama said, calling to make sure every American is automatically registered to vote – including former inmates who've earned their second chance — by adding polling places and expanding early voting, and making Election Day a national holiday."
“Guaranteeing that each American citizen has equal representation in our government,” he said, includes “the American citizens who live in Washington, D.C., and in Puerto Rico.”
"They're Americans," Obama said.