President Joe Biden said Wednesday he supports both the filibuster and the legislation his supporters want to abolish the filibuster in order to pass.
The filibuster is a controversial and longtime Senate parliamentary procedure that allows a minority party in the Senate to block legislation. The effect of the tactic is to require 60 votes to end the filibuster, making it difficult for a majority party with fewer than 60 senators to pass legislation without members of the other party on board.
This year, left-wing Democrats have howled for the filibuster to be eliminated so that a Democrat-sponsored elections overhaul bill can pass the Senate. In June, Republicans successfully turned back the bill, increasing the yelping from the left to abolish the filibuster
Biden, who has attacked Republican-led states that have passed election integrity laws, was asked at a CNN town hall why, if the elections overhaul bill was so important, the president was unwilling to support flattening the filibuster in order to pass the law.
Biden began by affirming his antipathy to states that pass their own election reforms.
“Never before has there been an attempt by state legislatures to take over the ability to determine who won — not count the votes, determine who won,” he said, according to a White House transcript.
“We have election officials across the board that they’re deciding to push out of the way. And if, in fact, tomorrow — let’s say we’re running last time and we’re — these laws had been in effect that are — these changes,” Biden added.
“In Georgia, the Georgia legislature — you know, Biden won by multiple thousand votes; they could say, ‘We don’t think it was legit.’ And the state legislature votes, ‘We’re going send electors up to Congress to vote for Trump, not Biden.’ That’s never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever been tried before. This is Jim Crow on steroids what we’re talking about.”
Biden then launched into the history of a filibuster, noting that senators used to be required to keep talking for the entire time they held up whatever piece of legislation was targeted.
“I’d tell you what I’d do. I would go back to that, where you have to maintain the floor. You have to stand there and talk and hold the floor,” Biden said.
CNN host Don Lemon then questioned Biden’s position on putting the filibuster ahead of the elections overhaul. Biden responded by saying, in essence, he is for both.
“I want to see the United States Congress, the United States Senate, pass S. 1 and S. 4, the John Lewis Act, get them to my desk so I can sign it,” he said.
“But here’s the deal: What I also want to do — I want to make sure we bring along not just all the Democrats; we bring along Republicans, who I know know better. They know better than this,” he said.
“And what I don’t want to do is get wrapped up, right now, in the argument of whether or not this is all about the filibuster or — look, the American public, you can’t stop them from voting. You tried last time. More people voted last time than at any time in American history in the middle of the worst pandemic in American history. More people did,” he said.
“And they showed up. They’re going to show up again. They’re going to do it again. But what I want to do is, I’m trying to bring the country together. And I don’t want the debate to only be about whether or not we have a filibuster or exceptions to the filibuster or going back to the way the filibuster had to be used before,” Biden added.
“If it’s a relic of Jim Crow, it’s been used to fight against civil rights legislation historically, why protect it?” Lemon asked.
“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.
Biden then left the filibuster behind to talk up his support for the law being held up by the tactic.
“And there’s a lot at stake. The most important one is the right to vote. That’s the single most important one. And your vote counted and counted by someone who honestly counts it,” he said.
Biden continued by moving the topic of discussion to the glories of free money his administration sends out.
“But it goes beyond that. For example, wouldn’t my friends on the other side love to have a debate about the filibuster instead of passing the Recovery Act? Or wouldn’t they love doing it instead of being in a position where we provide for — how many of you have children under the age of 17? Raise your hand. Guess what? You’re getting a lot of money in a monthly check now, aren’t you?” he said.
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