Biden backs exception to filibuster for voting rights bills

President Biden says he supports creating an exception to the legislative filibuster in the Senate in order to pass voting rights legislation over Republican opposition. 

Biden told ABC News’s David Muir in a portion of an interview that aired Thursday that he would support fundamental changes to Senate rules in order to pass election reform legislation. 

“That means whatever it takes. Change the Senate rules to accommodate major pieces of legislation without requiring 60 votes,” Biden said.

When asked to clarify that he supported a carveout for voting rights legislation from the 60-vote threshold needed to pass most bills in the Senate, Biden said that he did. 

“The only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making an exception on voting rights of the filibuster,” Biden said. 

The remarks are similar to those that Biden made during a CNN town hall in October, when he opened the door to “fundamentally” altering or eliminating the filibuster to advance voting rights legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier this week Democrats would take up voting rights legislation upon returning to Washington in January and warned they would pursue changes to the Senate rules if Republicans continue to block the legislation as they did several times in the past year.

But despite support among Biden and other Democrats, Schumer does not have the unanimous support within the Democratic caucus he would need to change the Senate rules. Moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they would not support eliminating or watering down the filibuster.

Biden has faced pressure from civil rights leaders and other advocates to do more to advance voting rights legislation. 

Democrats are debating a range of options on filibuster reform, including returning to a “talking filibuster,” which Biden has said he supports, or changing the rules so that 41 votes are required to maintain a filibuster, rather than 60 votes to break one.

“The President’s belief … on voting rights is that if the Republicans continue to obstruct, then we are going to look at what needs to be done to get it done.  We’re not quite there yet, but we, of course, will continue those discussions with Leader Schumer,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing Wednesday. 

Tags Charles Schumer Filibuster Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Senate rules voting rights

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