President Joe Biden has declared his support for a filibuster-free Senate to pass voting rights legislation.
In an interview, Biden told ABC News’ David Muir that if the filibuster is the only thing standing in the way of voting rights legislation being enacted or not being passed, I favor exempting voting rights from the filibuster.
This is Biden’s most forthright response to questions about his position on the filibuster and voting rights.
- Joe Biden says he favors waiving the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.
- Democrats lack the votes necessary to change the filibuster due to internal opposition within
- The move comes as state lawmakers seek to increase voting restrictions ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
- Chuck Schumer indicated Monday that the Senate would debate voting rights legislation once Congress reconvenes in January.
- Democrats lack the votes necessary in the Senate to change the filibuster, owing to opposition from members of their party.
- Biden has previously opposed attempts to eliminate the filibuster entirely.
Opposition to filibuster change
In October, Anderson Cooper questioned Biden during a CNN town hall, “When it comes to voting rights, just to be clear, you would consider eliminating the filibuster on that one issue, is that correct?”
“And maybe more,” Biden replied.
Republicans have blocked multiple Democratic-sponsored initiatives to enhance voting access and end voter suppression, alleging that the plans amount to a federal power grab. This has prompted some progressive Democrats and activists to call for an end to the filibuster rule, requiring 60 votes to move most legislation. However, Democrats lack the votes necessary in the Senate to change the filibuster, owing to opposition from members of their party, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
With Republican-led state legislatures threatening to enact a slew of voting restrictions ahead of the pivotal 2022 midterm elections, the voting rights fight has gained new urgency.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated Monday in a letter to Democratic colleagues that the Senate will debate voting rights legislation once Congress reconvenes in January, “as early as the first week back.”
Further, he indicated that the Senate would explore amending the filibuster rules.
“If Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster and prevent consideration of this bill, the Senate will consider amending any rules that prevent us from debating and concluding vital legislation,” the New York Democrat stated.
Biden commits to keep fighting for voting rights.
Biden, a former US senator, has resisted moves to eliminate the filibuster.
He told Don Lemon during a July town hall that there was “no reason” to defend the filibuster “save to throw the entire Congress into disarray and nothing will be done.”
And during a CNN town hall in October, Biden stated that attempting to eliminate the filibuster would undermine his economic agenda‘s chances of passage. Biden previously recommended that the Senate revert to a “talking filibuster,” a procedure that requires a senator seeking to delay legislation to maintain the floor without interruptions but still needs 60 votes to end debate.
Meanwhile, Biden has pledged to “continue the fight” to pass voting legislation, urging Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Neither has a realistic possibility of collecting the ten Republican votes required to break a filibuster.
Civil rights groups and other advocates have pressed Biden to take a more active role in advancing voting rights legislation.
Democrats are contemplating a host of filibuster reform options, including returning to a “talking filibuster,” Biden has revealed he supports or amending the rules to require 41 votes to maintain a filibuster, rather than 60 votes to break one.
“The President’s position on voting rights is that if Republicans continue to obstruct, we will examine what has to be done to get it done.” We’re not quite there yet, but we will undoubtedly continue our negotiations with Leader Schumer,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday.