In an important shift, President Biden now appears to be on board with reforming the filibuster.
According to Vanity Fair:
Biden indicated in an interview Tuesday that while he remains set against eliminating the filibuster entirely, he will support efforts to reform it, making the procedure what he says it was originally “supposed to be.” “I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,” Biden told George Stephanopoulos in an ABC News interview. “You had to stand up and command the floor. You had to keep talking.”
Biden, who spent decades in the upper chamber, reveres the body’s traditions and, both as senator and vice president to Barack Obama, was known for his knack for bipartisan dealmaking. In ascending to the presidency after four years of polarization under Donald Trump, Biden expressed confidence that cooperation between Democrats and Republicans would be possible and that he could work within the existing system to deliver for the American people. He’s by no means abandoning those aspirations. But, he acknowledged to Stephanopoulos, the filibuster has helped bring the Senate to the point where “democracy is having a hard time functioning.”
That should be a welcome line for the growing number of Democrats who have called for the filibuster to be eliminated or reformed, particularly with Mitch McConnell and the GOP threatening to exploit the tool to thwart efforts to fight back against their disenfranchisement crusade in states across the country. (McConnell on Tuesday blasted efforts to reform the filibuster, saying it was the only thing preventing a “scorched-earth Senate.”) “He’s being vague about it, but that’s alright…As a student and creature of the Senate, he certainly knows how to choose his words carefully on this subject,” said Senator Dick Durbin of the interview. “But I think he’s acknowledging the obvious: the filibuster has really shackled the Senate.” Biden isn’t going as far as some progressives would like, but reforming the filibuster to make it more difficult to use is something that could still make a difference in terms of the power McConnell’s minority party can wield.
If you follow us regularly, you’ll know that we are supporters of reforming or eliminating the filibuster. The filibuster stands in the way of pro-democracy reforms like the For the People Act and Washington DC statehood. The filibuster is also stymying efforts to combat state-level voter suppression.
Having the president of the United States as an ally to your cause is important, especially if you want to convince members of his party to change the rules in the Senate.
Watch the relevant part of the interview below:
EXCLUSIVE: @GStephanopoulos: "You're for bringing back the talking filibuster?"— ABC News (@ABC) March 17, 2021
Pres. Biden: "I am. That's what it was supposed to be…Democracy's having a hard time functioning." https://t.co/yOAySBh8dz pic.twitter.com/M59cysphgc