Biden flip flops on the Filibuster
Written by Peter Boykin on October 23, 2021
Biden flip flops on the Filibuster
President Biden said recently he is open to the possibility of altering or eliminating the filibuster to pass federal voting rights legislation “and maybe more,” an admission that marked a reversal of his previous stance.
Biden initially appeared reluctant to address filibuster reform during his appearance at a CNN town hall, noting that he risked losing “at least three votes right now” on his spending bill. Sen. Joe Manchin and other moderates oppose altering or abolishing the filibuster.
When pressed on his stance, Biden said he supported restoring a requirement that lawmakers “hold the floor” to maintain a filibuster. The president added that Congress was approaching a point “where we fundamentally alter the filibuster,” citing recent moves by Republicans to block votes on raising the federal debt limit and on a sweeping Democrat-backed federal elections overhaul.
“The idea that, for example, my Republican friends say we’re going to default on the national debt because we’re going to filibuster that and we need 10 Republicans to support us is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard,” Biden said.
“If that gets pulled again, I think you’re going to see an awful lot of Democrats being ready to say, not me, I’m not doing that again, we’re going to end the filibuster,” he added.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper pressed Biden to explain what he meant by fundamentally altering the filibuster.
“That remains to be seen exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally altering it, whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up,” Biden said. “There are certain things that are just sacred rights.”
Near the end of the exchange, Cooper asked Biden whether he would entertain ending the filibuster entirely on the one issue of voting rights legislation.
“And maybe more,” Biden said in response.
Progressives have repeatedly called on Biden to support abolishing the filibuster to address election reforms. Republicans have used the filibuster to block votes on Democrat-backed legislation on three separate occasions this year.
Biden reiterated his opposition to the idea in July, arguing abolishing the filibuster despite fierce GOP objections would “throw the entire Congress into chaos.”
In March, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Biden risked a “scorched earth” Congress if he backed efforts to end the filibuster.
Ilhan Omar says Democrats who won’t nix filibuster ‘are killing our democracy’
“Squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said any Senate Democrats standing in the way of eliminating the filibuster “are killing our democracy.”
Omar lashed out at her upper chamber counterparts who have stood against progressive calls to nix the filibuster, accusing them of being the death knell of democracy.
“The filibuster—and the Democratic Senators who continue to uphold it—are killing our democracy,” she tweeted recently.
The Minnesota Democrat’s latest attack on her fellow party members came after Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the Democrats’ election overhaul bill.
The most recent filibuster is the third time this year that Senate Republicans have blocked the Democrats’ voting overhaul agenda.
Progressives have been staunch in their calls for the abolition of the filibuster, although moderate Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have opposed the removal of the Senate procedure.
Biden would consider ending the filibuster for voting rights ‘and maybe more’
Biden noted he risked losing ‘at least three votes right now’ on his spending bill by entering filibuster debate
Back in July Biden said this
Biden says abolishing filibuster would ‘throw entire Congress into chaos’
President said lawmakers attempting a filibuster should be required to ‘hold the floor’
President Biden shot down calls to abolish the filibuster to clear the way for passage of the sweeping Democrat-backed elections overhaul, arguing that any effort to end use of the tactic despite a GOP outcry would jeopardize his entire legislative agenda.
“There’s no reason to protect it, other than you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done,” he said. “Nothing at all will get done. There’s a lot at stake. The most important one is the right to vote, that’s the single most important one.”
Biden offered his stance during a CNN presidential town hall after an attendee and moderator Don Lemon pressed him to explain why he hasn’t called for the filibuster to be abolished.
Demands among progressives to abolish the filibuster have escalated since June when Senate Republicans blocked consideration of the “For The People Act” after Democrats failed to secure the 60 votes required to overcome the filibuster. Biden is a staunch advocate of the bill, arguing it is a necessary check on election integrity bills in GOP-led states that the president has likened to “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”
While he is unwilling to seek an end to the filibuster, Biden said “abuse” of the tactic is “pretty overwhelming” in the Senate. The president reiterated his stance that lawmakers should be required to “hold the floor,” or deliver continued remarks in the Senate chamber, in order to maintain a filibuster.
Biden referenced former Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who once conducted a 24-hour filibuster in a failed bid to halt the passage of civil rights legislation in 1957.
“There were significantly fewer filibusters in those days, in the middle of the Civil Rights movement,” Biden said.
In March, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that Biden risked a “scorched earth” Congress if he supported efforts to end the filibuster.
“I’m trying to bring the country together, and I don’t want the debate to only be about whether or not we have a filibuster or exceptions to the filibuster or going back to the way the filibuster had to be used before,” Biden added.
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