President Joe Biden favored changing the filibuster rules in the Senate, a move that would help more progressive Democrats pass radical bills and measures that had been shelved by Republicans.
The President told ABC News in an interview on Tuesday that he would agree to modify obstruction rules, better known as the filibuster.
“I don’t think you have to eliminate the filibuster, you have to do it the way it used to be when I came to the Senate in the old days,” Biden said.
Although Democrats lead both Congress and the Senate, at least 60 votes are needed in the upper chamber in order to interrupt a debate and proceed to a vote on a bill.
The filibuster can be invoked whenever there are fewer than 60 senators willing to vote to end debate on any particular bill.
Thanks to the filibuster, the Senate had been able to control left-wing initiatives that would change the future of the United States, but now there is a movement in the upper chamber that wants to eliminate the 60-vote requirement to establish that only a simple majority is needed: i.e., 50 plus 1.
Biden’s comments contradict what the White House said. When asked about the Air Force One filibuster, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “Well, first, I would say the President’s preference, as you alluded to, is not to make changes. He is also open to hearing ideas. And those discussions will happen in Congress. This is, of course, a Senate rule. It’s not a law that he would change or sign into law. It’s a Senate rule,” she pointed out.
Democrats are also against eliminating the filibuster
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned on Tuesday of a “scorched earth” scenario if Democrats end the filibuster.
“Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: no one serving in this chamber can even begin, cannot even begin to imagine, what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Democrats don’t have the votes to eliminate the filibuster, but some key senators have come out in favor of some rule changes; for example Democrat Joe Manchin, who has said he would never vote to eliminate the filibuster, but would be open to a rules change.
An article by Chad Pergram for Fox News notes that while eliminating the filibuster is an aspiration of the more radical Democrats, in practice it would be nearly impossible for them as “changing any of the 44 Standing Rules of the Senate involves a procedural vote of 67 votes in favor.”
Within the Democratic Party itself, there are also those who oppose the measure to eliminate the filibuster; for example, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has already said that they would oppose blocking the requirement.