Biden against making changes to filibuster, Psaki says

President Biden is against changing the rules around the legislative filibuster in the Senate, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, even as the rule presents a roadblock to key agenda items.

“His preference is not to make changes to the filibuster rules,” Psaki said at a briefing with reporters. “And he believes that with the current structure that he can work with Democrats and Republicans to get work and business done. He’s also happy to hear from Sen. Manchin and others who have ideas about how to get the business done for the American people.”

Psaki was asked multiple times about whether Biden would support ending the filibuster, or enacting changes that would make it more difficult to block legislation. In each case, Psaki indicated the president was opposed to tweaking the filibuster.

“His preference is not to make different changes to the rules, to the filibuster rules,” Psaki said.

When reporters noted the filibuster could hold up legislation on issues like voting rights and civil rights, Psaki argued that such bills should be able to garner bipartisan support.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key swing vote in the Senate, said Sunday that he was steadfast in his support for keeping the filibuster, but expressed openness to making it “a little bit more painful” to use.

“If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make them stand there and talk. I’m willing to look at any way we can,” Manchin said. “But I am not willing to take away the involvement of the minority,” he added. “I’ve been in the minority.”

The filibuster requires legislation to receive 60 votes needed to overcome initial procedural hurdles. Democrats hold 50 seats in the Senate, meaning at least 10 Republicans would need to vote with every Democrat to move major legislation forward.

Democrats in the Senate passed a $1.9 trillion relief package over the weekend using the budget reconciliation process, which allows the chamber to forgo the filibuster and pass it with a simple majority.

But filibuster has come back in the spotlight after the parliamentarian ruled recently that an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour didn’t comply with rules governing what could be included in the coronavirus legislation. 

Legislation on issues like voting rights and gun laws could also run into a brick wall without changes to the filibuster.

Tags Filibuster Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin
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