If Senate Democrats were hoping that President Joe Biden would strongly back their efforts to get rid of the filibuster, they were sorely mistaken, as it was confirmed on Friday that the former senator continues to oppose that radical idea, Breitbart reported.
The filibuster is a procedural rule that requires a three-fifths majority, typically 60 votes, in order to end debate on a bill and move to a final vote, and is intended to spur bipartisan compromise and protect the political minority from the tyranny of simple majority rule.
Some Democrats in Congress want to get rid of the filibuster in order to more easily push their left-wing agenda through the Senate with a slim majority over the objections of Republicans.
“Position hasn’t changed”
During the Friday press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked where Biden stood with regard to the ongoing negotiations between Schumer and McConnell for a power-sharing agreement, particularly as it related to the filibuster.
“Well, his — the President’s position hasn’t changed,” Psaki replied, “but I will say he’s conveyed in conversations with both now Leader Schumer and Senator McConnell that they need to have their conversations, of course, but he is eager to move his rescue plan forward.”
“So his position hasn’t changed? He opposes overturning a legislative filibuster?” the reporter queried.
“He has spoken to this many times. His position has not changed,” Psaki responded.
Biden open to changing stance
Breitbart noted that Psaki was alluding to Biden’s previously stated position on the filibuster that he gave in an interview with The New York Times in July 2020. The then-Democratic candidate expressed his general opposition to getting rid of the procedural tool but also signaled an openness to do so that was dependent upon the level of opposition he would ultimately face from Republicans.
“I think it’s gonna depend on how obstreperous [Republicans] become,” he said at that time, according to Breitbart, and added, “But I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.”
Where Biden stands on gutting or protecting the filibuster is important given how that procedural rule has become a central point of contention in the negotiations between Schumer and McConnell on how best to divide power in the split upper chamber of Congress, according to Politico.
McConnell has reportedly insisted on explicit protections for the filibuster being included in any power-sharing agreement reached, but Schumer and other Democrats were said to have balked at that demand. While suggesting they have no intentions of doing away with the filibuster, Democrats nonetheless want to keep the threat of doing so on the table in order to force compliance and compromise from the Republican minority.
What ultimately happens with regard to the filibuster may come down to Biden and his choice between protecting a vital tool of the minority in the purposefully deliberative Senate or transforming the upper chamber into a smaller version of the simple majority rules House of Representatives in order to force his policy agenda through a sharply divided Congress.