President Joe Biden on Tuesday backed reform, rather than abolishing, the filibuster after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Democrats that ending long-standing Senate procedures could block legislation that advocates will take over the Democratic president’s agenda.
Leading Democrats, including the party’s top two members in the Senate, have raised rhetoric in recent days about the future of the filibuster, which needs support from 60 to 100 chamber members to pass the majority of the law – effectively empowering the minority party in a closely divided room.
The parliamentary custom has long been seen as a mechanism requiring bipartisan consensus introducing the Senate from the House of Representatives, where only a simple majority is needed to pass legislation. But with the Senate shrunk by an outrageous division, consensus has become an increasingly elusive goal.
With the current Senate split of 50-50, Democrats said they may need to remove the filibuster to pass Biden’s priorities, including a bill already approved by the House of Representatives intended to facilitate voting in elections.
Biden, who has served 36 years in the U.S. Senate, told ABC News he supported changing the Senate filibuster rule that asked senators to continue to talk on the chamber floor to come up with a proposal law, which marks the first time he has endorsed procedural reform.
Biden said he didn’t think the filibuster needed to be removed, but favored returning it to “what it was when I first got to the Senate a long time ago. You have to stand up and command the floor. You have to keep talking.”
Asked if he was to bring back the “speaking filibuster,” Biden said, “I am. That should have been.”
EXCLUSIVE: @GStephanopoulos: “Will you bring back the filibuster in question?”
– ABC News (@ABC) March 17, 2021
Earlier this month, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden did not want to make changes to Senate filibuster policies.
“REMOVE ALL LIBERAL CHANGES”
McConnell, a Republican, speaking on the Senate floor, mapped out the dire consequences if Democrats seek to eliminate the filibuster entirely.
“This chaos will not open an express line to liberal change. It will not open an express line for the Biden presidency to speed up the history books. The Senate will be more like a 100-car pileup. Nothing moves, “McConnell said.
“No one serving in this chamber can begin … to imagine what a completely-burned-out Senate would look like,” he added, saying Republicans will need votes on all movements. of parliament, slowing down the pace of business.
McConnell also warned that Democrats will face a strictly conservative agenda on labor, energy, abortion rights, border security and gun ownership by 2022, if Republicans regain the Senate majority that no longer the filibuster is in the filibuster.
“We will not just erase every liberal change that hurts the country. We will strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero – zero – input from the other side,” he said.
McConnell spoke a day after Senator Dick Durbin said, the No. 2 of the Democrat of the chamber, in a speech on the floor that the filibuster was making a “mockery” of democracy and that Republicans abused it to block urgent legislation.
Two moderate Senate Democrats – Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin – opposed the removal of the filibuster, even as Manchin proposed changing the filibuster policy to make the parliamentary maneuver more “painful”.
McConnell said those lawmakers are under pressure from Durbin and others to reverse course.
But Manchin reaffirmed his position in comments that could allay Republican concerns. “The consequence is, you can’t get rid of the filibuster,” he told reporters.
On Tuesday, Durbin acknowledged that McConnell’s warning about the Senate grinding to stop was not a silence. “We’ve seen him do it. He’s proven he can do it and he’ll do it again,” Durbin said.
Senate President Chuck Schumer on Sunday said Democrats hope to work with Republicans to advance legislation intended to improve voter participation and change U.S. infrastructure. But he warned that Democrats are determined to defeat the Republican opposition.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Scott Malone, Cynthia Osterman and Leslie Adler)