Politics Biden says he doesn't want voting rights 'wrapped up' in filibuster debate
“He lied”: Black activists shame Biden's new filibuster defense as "magical thinking"
Biden thinks he can win over Republicans. Voting rights advocates say he's ignoring reality US President Joe Biden participates in a CNN Town Hall hosted by Don Lemon at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 21, 2021.
President Biden on Wednesday pushed back on calls from some progressives to do away with the filibuster or making an exception for voting rights legislation, even as he called efforts by Republican state legislatures to restrict ballot access "Jim Crow on steroids."
"I've been saying for a long, long time the abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming," Biden said at a CNN town hall in Ohio, reiterating his belief that the Senate should return to the talking filibuster that requires a lawmaker to stand on the floor to block legislation.
Biden says eliminating the filibuster would 'throw the entire Congress into chaos' and 'nothing will get done'
Biden has frustrated voting rights advocates with his hesitancy to push for changes to the Senate filibuster while decrying restrictive election laws.The current Senate filibuster rules require 60 votes to advance to debate and to pass most legislation, except some budget-related measures, like the American Rescue Plan, that can be passed by a simple majority with budget reconciliation.
"I would go back to that where you have to maintain the floor," Biden said. "You have to stand there and talk and hold the floor."
But pressed by moderator Don Lemon about calls from voting rights advocates and some Democrats to get rid of the filibuster for an issue as urgent as voting rights, Biden said he was still holding out hope Republicans would get on board to make the legislation bipartisan and warned gutting the filibuster would throw Congress into "chaos."
"I want to make sure we bring along not just all the Democrats, we bring along Republicans who I know know better," Biden said. "They know better than this. And what I don't want to do is get wrapped up right now in the argument whether or not this is all about the filibuster.
Biden's silence on filibuster strains Democrats' patience
President Biden gave an impassioned speech this week on democracy and protecting the right to vote, but Democratic strategists and activists say it's something he failed to mention - namely filibuster reform - that could cost him."This is really the first place that Biden risks losing the base," said one top Democratic strategist."It's no accident that it's the issue of voting rights. I think Black voters feel like 'we did the hard work and"This is really the first place that Biden risks losing the base," said one top Democratic strategist.
Video: Senate Democrats take their case for voting bill to Georgia (Associated Press)
"Look, the American public, you can't stop them from voting... But what I want to do is, I'm trying to bring the country together," Biden continued. "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's optimism that Republicans may come around on federal voting rights legislation is at odds with the views of lawmakers in Congress.
The For The People Act, a sweeping elections reform bill Democrats have talked up as a top legislative priority, failed to garner a single GOP vote in a Senate vote earlier this month and does not appear to have a path to passage.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the formula that required states and jurisdictions with noted histories of racial voting discrimination to get any new voting laws first approved by the Justice Department, also lacks sufficient GOP support in the Senate.
Progressivesthe Senate should nix the 60-vote threshold required to advance legislation, or at least provide a carve out for voting rights.
Biden delivered a major speech on the need to protect voting rights in Philadelphia last week, where he called on Congress to pass voting rights legislation andfrom former President Donald Trump and his allies questioning the results of the 2020 election as an existential threat to democracy. But he did not mention the filibuster at all, a point of contention with progressives and voting rights advocates.
Texas Democrats vs. Gov. Greg Abbott: Who will blink first? Abbott may have the upper hand .
Texas Democrats will probably "blink first" in standoff over Texas voting bill, analysts said, because Abbot has more political advantages at this stage.The more than 50 state House Democrats made a political bet when they flew to Washington, D.C., earlier this week, hinging their hopes on Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation while stalling the state Legislature back in Austin, part of an effort to halt a restrictive voting measure.