Biden Makes It Clear: Change Filibuster Rules to Pass Voting Rights Bill

Biden Makes It Clear: Change Filibuster Rules to Pass Voting Rights Bill Joe Biden speaks during a meeting. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with his administration's Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and private sector CEOs in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 22. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 23 December 2021 07:55 AM

President Joe Biden said he supports changing the Senate filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation.

In an interview with ABC News, Biden was asked if he were prepared to accept fundamental changes to the filibuster rules in order to pass a voting rights bill.

"Yes," Biden said. "That means whatever it takes. Change the Senate rules to accommodate [a] major piece of legislation without requiring 60 votes.

"If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making the exception of voting rights for the filibuster."

Biden's comments to ABC were stronger than what he said during a CNN town hall in October, when he was asked: "When it comes to voting rights, just so I'm clear though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue, is that correct?"

"And maybe more," Biden answered.

With his signature social spending and climate bill blocked in the Senate, Biden and Democrats are focusing on passing select parts of their progressive agenda.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday said Democrats have "lots of ways" to pass two voting rights bills — including by changing the rules governing a filibuster.

"Every one of the 50 [Democrat] senators supports the bill, but we'll never get Republicans," Schumer said in an interview with SiriusXM's Joe Madison on "The Black Eagle." "And we've proven that to Joe Manchin and everybody else because we gave Joe a couple of months, and said, 'hey, we have a bill all Democrats support, including you,' but we couldn't get Republicans."

Manchin, D-W.Va., said Sunday he would not support the Build Back Better social spending bill. His backing is needed to pass the plan via reconciliation in a Senate divided evenly along party lines.

Two weeks ago, it was reported that Manchin had talked about small changes to Senate rules with Republicans.

"Most of us would argue that the only thing that it takes to get the Senate working better is behavioral change … but he is trying to come up with some fairly, I would say, creative ideas about the rules," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the No. 2 Senate Republican, told The Hill.

In October, Manchin said that "it makes no sense to me" to abandon the Senate filibuster.

The Democrats' John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named after the late Georgia congressman who made the issue a defining one in his career, would update to the landmark Voting Rights Act. Progressives say Supreme Court decisions concerning the legislation negatively have affected minorities.

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