President Joe Biden has long claimed that he wants to leave the filibuster alone. But with Democrats now in control of the federal government, he’s starting to change his tune.
In his latest concession to the far left, the self-styled “moderate” gave his strongest indication yet this week that he is willing to cooperate with demands to weaken the ability of the minority party to protest the majority’s wishes, The Washington Times reported.
With the filibuster, most legislation needs 60 votes to clear the Senate. It has long been seen as an essential feature of the more deliberative chamber of Congress, as it gives the party in the minority the opportunity to block legislation advanced by the majority.
Liberals rallied around abolishing the filibuster during Donald Trump’s presidency, and calls to run roughshod over Republican opposition have only grown stronger with Democrats eager to pass their radical agenda.
For perhaps the first time this week, Biden showed himself receptive to demands to alter the filibuster in an interview with ABC News, telling host George Stephanopoulos that the current set-up isn’t working for “democracy.”
According to The Washington Times, Biden did not say outright that the filibuster should be abolished, but said that senators should be limited to a “talking filibuster,” in which lawmakers block a bill by speechifying continuously.
“That’s what it was supposed to be,” Biden said, according to the Times. “It’s almost getting to the point where democracy is having a hard time functioning.”
Democrats argue that the “talking filibuster,” which predominated until changes in the 1970s made blocking bills somewhat easier, would force the minority to be more discriminating.
But calls to eliminate the filibuster have excited passionate opposition from Republicans, who insist it will end with catastrophe.
It is worth asking where the change Biden seeks may stop. Biden has already belied calls for “unity” with a sharply partisan approach, and while chatter of the “talking filibuster” is new, Democrats have more fundamentally attacked the filibuster as a remnant of Jim Crow and a tool of “obstruction.”
Biden’s endorsement seems certain to embolden those seeking more transformative change, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who said Thursday the filibuster has “deep roots in racism” and “should not be permitted…to create a veto for the minority,” as Fox News reported. “In a democracy, it’s majority rules,” she said.
Majority rules. Does this really end with “bringing back” what once was, as Biden says, or with turning the Senate into something totally new?