Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff called for a major overhaul of American institutions, including abolishing the Electoral College, eliminating the filibuster, and expanding the Supreme Court, as his central policy agenda for his campaign for the Senate seat previously held by the late Dianne Feinstein.
The policies, obtained by Politico, reinforce Schiff’s central pitch in his Senate candidacy as a defender of democracy, drawing on his high-profile roles in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment and the January 6 Committee.
Threats to democracy
“I think our democracy is at more grave risk now than ever,” Schiff told Politico in an interview. “And it’s clear that that issue is going to be front and center—and needs to be front and center—on the national stage.”
Host of provisions
Schiff’s other provisions include making the Election Day voting process easier and making it a federal holiday to encourage more people to vote, restoring voting rights for ex-felons, and instituting term limits for Supreme Court justices.
Race for Senate seat
Schiff’s new agenda constitutes his driving message in the race to replace the late Dianne Feinstein in California as it nears its March 5 primary. His rival, Democrat Representative Katie Porter, has also used a policy rollout to amplify her campaign persona.
Porter recently released her plan to “shake up the Senate.” This includes banning earmarks, and like Schiff, she plans to prohibit stock trading by members of Congress and their families. These long-held positions feature prominently in her first major campaign ad.
The third prominent Democrat in the race, Representative Barbara Lee, has touted her support for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza as highlighting her progressive, anti-war credentials. Lee and Porter are trailing Schiff in recent polling and are locked in a battle for second place with GOP contender Steve Garvey.
Schiff’s campaign centerpiece is his “Protecting Our Democracy Act,” legislation he introduced in 2020 to strengthen Congress’s ability to enforce subpoenas, limit the scope of presidential pardons, and enhance whistleblower protections.
Schiff tries again
The bill passed the House in 2021 but was stalled in the Senate, although a few provisions increasing Congressional oversight of the executive branch were made into law. Schiff reintroduced the legislation in 2023 but has yet to get a hearing in the Republican-led House.
Schiff said he believed that legislative reforms were not enough and that major structural reforms were needed. Some of his proposals, including abolishing the Electoral College, require constitutional amendments.
Get rid of the filibuster
The congressman also wants to change Senate rules to abolish the filibuster, which he believes is necessary to enshrine abortion protections, gun safety measures, and voting rights into law.
Necessary to protect democracy
“If we’re going to make significant reforms to protect a democracy, we’re going to have to get rid of the filibuster,” Schiff said. “And I would trade wild swings in policy because the majority in the Senate can actually get things passed over the democracy-defeating stalemate that we have with the filibuster.”