In yet another apparent reversal of position, President Joe Biden said during a CNN Town Hall on Thursday night that he would be willing to scrap the filibuster for issues like ‘voting rights,’ “and maybe more.”
Democrats have been pushing to end the filibuster since they regained the Senate, and have been frustrated so far in not being able to pass some of their signature legislation.
The Senate is currently a 50/50 split – Vice President Kamala Harris being the theoretical tie-breaking vote. But for many, if not most major bills, Democrats need at least ten Republican votes – which they aren’t getting.
Back in July however, Biden was opposed to ending the procedure, saying it would, “throw the entire Congress into chaos.”
Democrats have had a seemingly love/hate relationship with the filibuster in recent years.
President Obama, for example, falsely claimed that it’s “another Jim Crow relic” when talking about voting rights at the funeral of the late Rep. John Lewis.
But the filibuster was the Democrat Party’s best friend during the Trump administration. In fact, Democrats were so enamored with the filibuster during the 2019-2020 congressional session, they used it a staggering 328 times – a record.
Now, with trillion dollar spending bills to get passed the finish line, Democrats have decided that the filibuster must go.
What is standing in the way is Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), both of whom have said they are not in favor of removing the filibuster.
Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have stood firm in their opposition to ending the filibuster. Many of their colleagues and activist groups have put much pressure on both to change their positions.
Both have remained consistent.
Back in June Sinema said of the filibuster that it “protects the democracy of our nation rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years.” She continued, saying that one of the functions of the filibuster is to “create comity, and to encourage senators to find bipartisanship and work together.”
Manchin explained, “I have never supported a repeal of the filibuster and I don’t support one now. I am willing to consider solutions that promote collaboration so the Senate is able to be a productive body again. But repealing the filibuster would result in even more partisanship.”
Joe Biden may say he is now open to ending the filibuster, but he also acknowledges he is in a tight spot if the filibuster goes away.
During the Town Hall meeting he stated,
“If I get myself into at this moment the debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes right now to get what I have to get done on the economic side of the equation, foreign policy side of the equation.”
Republicans have also made it clear that they will not assist Democrats in raising the debt ceiling again after December 3, and that a filibuster could come from that side of the aisle with no Republican support.
In the past, Joe Biden has come out in favor of the talking filibuster, but would not get specific on what might happen during the Town Hall. He stated, “It remains to be seen exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally altering it, whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up.”
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