Politics Joe Biden has a change of heart regarding the filibuster ... again
“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.
Mark it down as another flip-flop: President Joe Biden came outon Wednesday night after previously suggesting he would support leftist efforts to get rid of it.
When asked whether the filibuster was his priority over voting access, Biden said during a televised townhall: “No, it’s not. There’s no reason to protect it other than you’re going to throw the whole Congress into chaos, and nothing will get done.”
That sounds like a pretty important reason, Joe!
Biden is, of course, correct. The filibuster — the term now used to refer to any legislative stall tactic that forces parties to win over 60 votes to move forward on most bills in the U.S. Senate — serves an important purpose. It protects the rights of the minority and forces majorities either to seek out compromise or to win broader electoral mandates. Although it was not part of the original constitutional structure of the Senate, the filibuster has helped preserve the Founders’ vision of the Senate by stimulating debate and deliberation and making it difficult to pass sweeping legislation along party-lines with every change of government. Abolish the filibuster, and the Senate will be no better than the House of Representatives — a chaotic group of legislators more interested in performative action than in substantive lawmaking.
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.
Biden said as much himself back in 2005. Eliminating the filibuster he argued, would “eviscerate the Senate and turn it into the House of Representatives....It is not only a bad idea; it upsets the constitutional design, and it disservices the country.… Altering Senate rules to help in one political fight or another could become standard operating procedure, which, in my view, would be disastrous. … God save us from that fate.”
It’s nice to see Biden return to a reasonable position on this. Just a few months ago he was openly entertaining leftists’ push to gut the filibuster for short-term gain when he realized it was the one thing standing in the way of his agenda.
"We’re going to get a lot done, and if we have to, if there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about," Biden said in March after endorsing a return to the talking filibuster, which requires senators to hold the floor to block legislation.
Biden says he doesn't want voting rights 'wrapped up' in filibuster debate
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. "I would go back to that where you have to maintain the floor," Biden said.
Biden still supports returning to a talking filibuster, as he made clear on Wednesday. But it seems he’s realized a couple of things: First, that much of his agenda actually can pass with the filibuster in place, if Democrats successfully exploit the budget reconciliation process. And second, that endorsing the total abolition of the filibuster would put moderate Democrats in a very precarious situation. Better to endorse reform, which might earn bipartisan support, than force vulnerable Democrats to take a hard stand that could be used against them in 2022.
Still, if we’ve learned anything about Biden’s stance on the filibuster, it’s that. If, for some reason, the Senate parliamentarian decides to scratch several of Biden’s wish-list items from Democrats’ reconciliation proposal, he might just change his mind again. Biden is going to do whatever is most advantageous to him. For right now, that is good news for the filibuster.
The conservative constitutional case against the filibuster
Everyone knows the politics, but it’s important not to overlook the constitutional text. As the Brennan Center for Justice reported last year in The Case Against the Filibuster, "the filibuster did not become a rule or practice of the Senate until 129 years after the Constitution was ratified. Moreover, not only is the Constitution silent on the matter, but it prescribes supermajority votes only for very specific subjects, such as treaties, making clear that a simple majority is the expectation for other circumstances, including legislation.
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In his first major voting rights speech, Biden to denounce GOP's bills as 'un-American' restrictions 'grounded in autocracy' .
President Biden's Philadelphia speech comes as lawmakers in Texas left the state in droves to block the passage of two election omnibus bills.Biden will speak at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon as the White House and Biden administration face mounting pressure to adopt a more forceful stance on voter suppression with his bully pulpit.