02:41 - Source: CNN
Abby Phillip explains racist past of the filibuster
(CNN) —  

A senior aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggested earlier this week that the California Democrat is open to gutting the filibuster so that legislation can be advanced by a simple majority.

Feinstein’s state director Jim Lazarus told a group of activists from the progressive group Indivisible on Monday in San Francisco that she believes “the leadership of the Senate will come up with a path that allows” the voting rights bill currently stalled in the Senate “to go forward with 50 Democratic votes.”

“I have no inside information as to what path they will use to do that,” he added. “But there is history with budgets and judicial nominations that bypass the filibuster process, and because it’s unique if you’ve looked at the Constitution Section 4 of Article 1, is the election of the Congress, that’s a separate subsection and a separate authority where they have the right to create national regulations for voting for members of the Congress, so hopefully that is the hook that allows this bill to go forward absent any concern of the filibuster.”

Lazarus later said: “I think you’re going to see a reform package come out of the leadership.”

Feinstein’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. The Los Angeles Times first reported on these comments.

Senate Democrats still lack the votes to change the rules and don’t have total support within its caucus so that just 51 senators can break a filibuster down from the 60 vote threshold.

Joe Manchin of West Virginia is opposed to gutting the rules entirely, and other Democratic senators, such as Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Jon Tester of Montana, are resisting gutting the 60-vote threshold as well.

When asked by CNN last month if she supported reducing the threshold to a simple majority, Feinstein responded, “not at this time.”

But in a statement March 19, Feinstein said she was open to “changing” the filibuster to pass Democratic-led bills on gun safety but didn’t specify what the change would be.

She also said President Joe Biden’s idea last month of a talking filibuster was an “idea worth discussing.”

“Ideally the Senate can reach bipartisan agreement on those issues, as well as on a voting rights bill. But if that proves impossible and Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster by requiring cloture votes, I’m open to changing the way the Senate filibuster rules are used,” she said in a statement.

CNN’s Ali Main contributed to this report.