- President Biden said he agreed with former President Obama that the filibuster is a “Jim Crow relic.”
- Biden inched closer to endorsing efforts to abolish the rule requiring 60 votes to pass legislation.
- Democrats don’t have the required 50 “yes” votes to abolish the rule in Senate.
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President Joe Biden said he agreed with former President Barack Obama that the Senate filibuster is a “Jim Crow relic” and inched closer to endorsing Democratic efforts to abolish the rule requiring 60 votes to pass legislation during a Thursday press conference.
Biden said the filibuster is being “abused in a gigantic way” and again threw his support behind reverting to a “talking filibuster,” which would make it more challenging for senators to block legislation.
“I strongly support moving in that direction,” Biden said.
Obama said during his eulogy for Rep. John Lewis in July 2020 that he supports eliminating the filibuster, if necessary, to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and pass other civil rights legislation. The filibuster was often used by segregationist senators to block civil-rights legislation during and after the civil rights movement.
Biden was asked multiple questions about the filibuster during his first-ever formal press conference as president. The rule is threatening to sink some of the Biden administration and Democrats’ biggest legislative efforts, including on infrastructure, immigration reform, and gun regulations, as the Senate is divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats.
While a majority of Democratic senators have coalesced around ending the Senate filibuster in recent months, the party doesn’t have 50 “yes” votes to abolish the rule. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have both said they won’t vote to end the rule.
Biden hasn’t always been critical of the filibuster. While he was a senator, he argued that the rule as designed to foster bipartisanship.
“At its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill, it is about compromise and moderation,” he said during a 2005 speech. “That is why the Founders put unlimited debate in. That is what it is about, engendering compromise and moderation.”