During a Tuesday interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Joe Biden indicated that he supports reforming the filibuster rule in the Senate, delivering a potential major boost to efforts to adjust Senate procedure to allow for more effective lawmaking. At present, the Senate’s filibuster rule means that 60 votes are required before moving to a vote on most legislation in the 100-member chamber, so members of the minority party can band together and stop legislation from moving forward, even if it could pass with a simple majority. Biden said that he supports requiring Senators to talk to sustain their filibuster instead of letting them vote against moving forward and be done with it.
On ABC, asked if he would have to “choose between” keeping the filibuster in place and advancing his agenda in the Senate, Biden commented as follows:
‘Yes, but here’s the choice: I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster, you have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days… You had to stand up and command the floor and you had to keep talking along. You couldn’t call for no one [to] say “quorum call.” Once you stop talking, you lost that, and someone could move in and say, “I move the question of.” So you’ve got to work for the filibuster.’
Asked more directly if he’s in favor of “bringing back the talking filibuster,” Biden added as follows:
‘I am. That’s what it was supposed to be. Look… it almost is getting to the point where democracy is having a hard time functioning, and so, look: I’m not saying this is going to be easy.’
Recently, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the most conservatively inclined Senate Democrats, indicated that he too would be open to filibuster reforms like Biden’s idea. Watch Biden’s comments below:
Stephanopoulos: “So you're for that reform? You're for bringing back the talking filibuster?"
Biden: “I am. That's what it was supposed to be…It's getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.” pic.twitter.com/rgzmEyhCoW
— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) March 17, 2021
Recently, the Senate passed the newly enacted COVID-19 economic relief package through a process called budget reconciliation, which allows certain legislation to move to a vote whether or not the minority party agrees. Budget reconciliation, however, doesn’t include critical areas of legislating like voting rights and immigration reform, meaning that — even in cases where a majority of the public might support certain reforms — Senate Republicans can block progress. The COVID-19 relief package received the support of overwhelming majorities of respondents, including some Republicans, in recent surveys, but not a single Congressional Republican voted in favor of the help.