On Wednesday, President Joe Biden
reiterated his opposition to repealing the Senate filibuster
rule, claiming that doing so will make legislation more difficult to pass rather than easier.
“There’s no reason to protect it other than you’re going to throw the entire Congress
into chaos, and nothing will get done,” Biden said during a CNN
town hall. “Nothing will get done at all, and there’s a lot at stake.”
Because of the filibuster, it now takes 60 votes
in the Senate to pass legislation, so even though Democrats
have a majority, they are unable to move forward on major parts of their agenda.
caucus is divided on whether to abolish the filibuster, but support is growing. Last year, former President Barack Obama
called it a "Jim Crow relic" that has been used to stymie civil rights
reform, saying the Senate should do away with it in order to advance legislation expanding voting rights
Biden acknowledged that the filibuster was a relic of the Jim Crow era, but he insisted on preserving it in order to persuade Republicans
to support voting rights legislation.
“I want to make sure we bring not just all of the Democrats, but Republicans who I know know better, who know better than this,” Biden said. “What I don’t want to do right now is get wrapped up in the debate over whether this is all about the filibuster.”
Republicans, on the other hand, are refusing to change their minds, as every single Senate Republican recently blocked debate on the For the People Act
, a comprehensive piece of voting rights and anti-corruption legislation.
To put it another way, Republicans used the filibuster to prevent the bill from being passed.
Biden on the filibuster: "I would go back to that where you have to maintain the floor." Biden on voting rights legislation: "I want to make sure we bring along not just all the Democrats, but Republicans who I know know better" pic.twitter.com/oiUhVaqUZv — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 22, 2021
Of course, repealing the filibuster would not preclude legislation from being bipartisan; Republicans who “know better” could still sign
on; it would simply eliminate the ability of a minority to block legislation.
Republicans, according to Biden, would love for Democrats to abolish the filibuster in order to turn it into a political issue and “have a debate about the filibuster” rather than focusing on, say, the expanded child tax credit
Despite this, Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan
, which provided that extra money
for parents, through a process known as reconciliation, which meant they could do so with a majority of votes. The ARP passed both the House
and the Senate with zero Republicans supporting it, and Democrats got around the filibuster to move it forward.
Democrats believed it was important enough to pass without bipartisan support, and it has been so popular that Republicans who opposed it are even claiming credit for it. The debate and discussion surrounding it has largely not focused on how many votes each party received.