President Biden on Wednesday night defended filibuster, a procedural tactic that delays much of his Senate agenda, though he reiterated he sees her as a relic of Jim Crow.
“There is no reason to protect it except that you are going to plunge the whole Congress into chaos and nothing will be done,” he said at a TUSEN town hall in Cincinnati. “Nothing at all will be done. “
Mr Biden said there was too much at stake to risk the level of “chaos” that a fight against filibuster would unleash, including voting rights legislation he still wants to see passed. He also said waging a war on filibuster would play into the hands of Republicans seeking to delay his agenda. “Wouldn’t my friends across the way like to debate filibuster instead of passing the Recovery Act? ” he said.
At his first press conference as president last March, Mr Biden thrilled progressives who want to change the rules governing the Senate’s procedural signing weapon that requires a qualified majority of 60 votes to push forward a bill. law. Mr Biden said the filibuster was “abused in a gigantic way.”
That month, he also approved a return to what is known as obstruction by speech: the requirement that opponents of the legislation be required to occupy the floor and argue against it.
On Wednesday night, he reiterated his support for a return to the old form, but made it clear he believed a filibuster fight was just a distraction.
“I’ve been saying for a long, long time that the abuse of filibuster is pretty damning,” he said.
But when it came to passing voting rights legislation, he added, “I want to make sure we’re not just bringing in all Democrats, we are bringing in Republicans I know better. They know better than that. What I don’t want to do is get confused right away in the discussion as to whether this is all about filibuster or not.
Mr Biden rejected the idea that rescinding or changing the filibuster was the only way to get his agenda through a divided Congress.
“I’m trying to bring the country together,” he said. “And I don’t want the debate to be just about whether or not we have an obstruction, or an exception to obstruction, or going back to how obstruction was to be used before.”