President Joe Biden threatened on Thursday that he may throw his weight behind proposed changes to the legislative filibuster in the Senate if it continues to be a roadblock on his key agenda issues.
The president noted his belief the Senate should return to a talking filibuster. The change would shift the requirement for senators to hold the floor in order to block most legislation.
Biden argued the current Senate filibuster has been abused by those in power. His remarks signal his potential support to end the filibuster or modify it in ways favorable to the current Democrat power in the Senate.
“I strongly support moving in that direction,” Biden said concerning the talking filibuster, “in addition to having an open mind about dealing with certain things that are just elemental to the functioning of our democracy, like the right to vote. Like the basic right to vote. We’ve amended the filibuster in the past.”
The Senate stands in a 50-50 tie following the January 2021 Georgia runoff election. Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tiebreaker vote in such cases.
Of course, Joe Biden doesn’t get a vote on the filibuster; that’s for the Senate to decide. But his position does matter. It could influence skeptical senators. And if Democrats somehow find 50 votes to alter or abolish it, his VP would be the tiebreaker. https://t.co/fWfiB35ntk
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 25, 2021
The current filibuster requires 60 votes in the Senate to move forward with most legislation. This means Democrats need at least 10 Republican senators to join legislation to pass a bill in the Senate.
Republican leaders have noted Biden’s hypocrisy regarding the filibuster change. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) noted, “Senator Biden was a relentless defender of the filibuster — but now that President Biden looks in the mirror and sees FDR, he’s keeping the door open for a complete 180 to blow up the institution he spent four decades defending.”
Biden’s press conference pointed to his future plans to limit or remove the power of the Senate filibuster. Republicans will continue to carefully guard the requirement, recognizing it as the key to holding back a flood of Biden’s progressive legislation prior to the 2022 midterm election.