President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he did not want to get “wrapped up” in arguments about the filibuster and it would “throw the entire Congress into chaos,” as some Democrats call for weakening the Senate’s filibuster rules in order to pass voting rights legislation.
“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 told CNN’s Don Lemon at a CNN town hall in Cincinnati.
The President said: “There’s no reason to protect it other than you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done. And there’s a lot at stake. The most important one is the right to vote, that’s the single most important one.”
He again slammed Republicans who are attempting to curb voting rights across the country, calling it “Jim Crow on steroids.” Republicans at the state level have moved since the 2020 election to roll back easy access to voting or install new obstacles in the way of voters.
Biden called on Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to block the nationwide assault on voting rights.
“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.
The President said: “This is Jim Crow on steroids, what we’re talking about.”
Biden said he wants 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.”
But there is currently no Republican support in the US Senate for voting rights legislation and Democrats do not have the votes to overcome the 60-vote filibuster. As a result, some Democrats are pushing the President to back changing the Senate filibuster rules. But some Democrats, including Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, say weakening the filibuster rules is something they will not support.
Biden has faced increasing pressure from Black leaders to take a strong stance on Congress eliminating the filibuster in order to pass federal legislation to protect voters.
The President delivered a high-profile speech earlier this month on protecting voting rights but did not mention the filibuster. Some Black civil rights leaders praised him for taking a strong stance against voter suppression in his speech but said he fell short of meeting their demand to discuss the filibuster.
“I’ve been saying for a long, long time the abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming,” Biden said Wednesday night. He said that when he had first joined the Senate there were fewer filibusters because it was a talking filibuster, which required a senator who wants to block legislation to hold the floor without taking a break.
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