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Biden opens door to supporting nixing legislative filibuster

Biden opens door to supporting nixing legislative filibuster
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE opened the door to throwing his support behind nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster, an idea that has reemerged as Democrats appear within striking distance of the Senate majority. 

Biden, in comments reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times, indicated that his decision would depend on whether Republicans would be willing to cut deals or would try to block Democratic proposals.  

“I think it’s gonna depend on how obstreperous they become,” he said, referring to Republicans. 

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Biden added that he had "not supported the elimination of the filibuster ... but I think you have to just take a look at it."  

Spokespeople for Biden didn't immediately respond to a question about the remarks. 

Senate Democrats are under growing pressure from progressives, outside groups and some within their own caucus to eliminate the 60-vote legislative filibuster if they win back the majority in November. 

Biden, who has a long history as a dealmaker, has indicated that he hopes he'll be able to win over a bipartisan coalition in Congress that would make talk of nixing the filibuster unnecessary. 

"I think I have a pretty good record of being able to pull together Democrats and Republicans," he told the Times and the Post. "I’ve been fairly good at understanding what the limitations of a senator [are] and try to figure out how you can help them."

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But supporters warn that without the structural change, Republicans will be able to block major Democratic initiatives on health care, immigration and climate change. Under the filibuster, legislation needs 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles and ultimately pass. Though Democrats are feeling increasingly confident in their ability to win back the majority, they are not expected to get 60 seats. 

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyBiden expands on Obama ethics pledge Biden signs executive order invoking 2-year lobbying ban for appointees K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (D-Ore.) said last month that he was circulating ideas to his Democratic colleagues about a larger package of rules changes, including filibuster reform

Nixing the 60-vote filibuster has gained steam within the caucus. Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsHawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators Moderates vow to 'be a force' under Biden Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts MORE (D-Del.) — a close Biden ally who previously led a 2017 letter on preserving the filibuster — indicated last month that he was open to discussing its elimination. 

"I will not stand idly by for four years and watch the Biden administration's initiatives blocked at every turn,” Coons told Politico. 

Democrats would likely have to go "nuclear" to get rid of the 60-vote filibuster, meaning they would need a simple majority and are all but guaranteed to get no Republican votes for the move. 

Whether they could get rid of the filibuster remains unclear given opposition from some of the Democratic caucus. Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMcConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Budowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit Manchin vows that he won't vote to kill filibuster 'under any condition' MORE (D-W.Va.) and Angus KingAngus KingModerates vow to 'be a force' under Biden Biden officials hold call with bipartisan group of senators on coronavirus relief plan The next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it MORE (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, have said they oppose getting rid of it

The filibuster has become an increasingly endangered species in the Senate in recent years. 

Democrats nixed the 60-vote filibuster for all executive nominations and most judicial nominees in 2013. Meanwhile, Republicans in 2017 got rid of the same threshold for Supreme Court nominees. 

Biden, if he wins the White House, wouldn't have a formal vote in nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster, but his support for the move would build pressure on Senate Democrats.