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In 2013, at the start of her time in office, Tammy Baldwin declared she supported reforming the filibuster
But that stance has changed in recent years, with her supporting elimination of the tactic outright early 2022.
The filibuster has been a hot topic in American politics over the last several years, with Democrats now the ones working to change – or even eliminate – a tactic that can be used to stall or kill measures that have majority support.
On Jan. 19, 2022, Democrats in the U.S. Senate were unsuccessful in overturning the filibuster in a move to pass a group of voting rights bills.
The filibuster is a legislative maneuver that can be used by the minority party to prolong debate, delay or even prevent a vote on a bill or resolution in the Senate. It means, on any measure, supporters effectively need 60 votes to proceed.
Over time, various carve outs were made. In 2013, Democrats eliminated the filibuster for votes on most federal judicial nominees in order to break a logjam during Barack Obama’s term. In 2017, Republicans eliminated it for U.S. Supreme Court nominees under President Donald Trump.
In the January vote on overriding the filibuster to force a vote on voting rights legislation, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, was among those who supported its elimination.
In the weeks since, we’ve heard a question from PolitiFact Wisconsin readers: Has Baldwin flip-flopped on getting rid of the filibuster?
A reminder here: We use our Flip-O-Meter to evaluate whether a politician has been consistent over time. The Flip-O-Meter does not examine if it is good policy or politics to make any change.
Let’s start at the beginning of Baldwin’s time in the Senate.
After being elected in 2012, Baldwin signed on to co-sponsor legislation that aimed to reform the filibuster, according to a Jan. 22, 2013 news release from her office. The bill would have reinstated the "talking filibuster," in which a senator would be required to physically go to the Senate floor and keep talking in order to maintain the filibuster delay. Under the plan, there would have also needed to be at least 41 votes to keep the filibuster going.
"Recently, the threat of the filibuster has been used far too often and as a result political obstructionism in the United States Senate is now worse than it has ever been," Baldwin said in the release. "The people of Wisconsin and our state’s progressive tradition deserve better."
Though the bill didn’t pass, Baldwin has continued to take a stand on the filibuster, with a slight change: her stance has shifted from reformation to elimination.
In a June 23, 2021 report from WKOW-TV, after Republicans had blocked a voting rights bill from advancing, Baldwin called for the end of the maneuver.
She said she was in favor of eliminating it entirely, not just in narrower cases.
The matter came to a head in the January 2022 vote, in which Badwin voted to end the filibuster. The measure did not pass, nor did an effort to create a carveout for voting-related measures, according to a Jan. 19, 2022 report from the New York Times, so there was no ultimate vote on the package itself.
Baldwin started out her career with an aim to reform the filibuster, looking to eliminate what she called "political gridlock" in the Senate.
Since then, her stance has shifted away from reforms, to complete elimination of the tactic. In fact, Baldwin voted in support of eliminating the filibuster completely in January 2022.
We consider this a partial change in position, and rate it a Half Flip.
Email conversation with Tammy Baldwin’s office, Feb. 1, 2022
Tammy Baldwin, "Tammy Baldwin backs filibuster reform," Jan. 22, 2013
WKOW, "Baldwin: Stalled voting rights bill should renew talk of ending filibuster," June 23, 2021
New York Times, "Democrats fail to change filibuster rules as Republicans block action on voting rights," Jan. 19, 2022
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