“But it’s not my expertise on parliamentary rules and how to get there,” continued Biden. He spent nearly four decades as a Democratic Senator in Delaware before becoming Vice President and now Commander in Chief.
Biden went on to say that “while our preoccupation with the filibuster is perfectly legitimate,” its administration can still achieve significant results “while we talk about what we are going to do about the filibuster.”
The Senate, now split between 50 and 50, could change its filibuster rules by a simple majority – as it did when Biden served as vice president in 2013 and 2017, both times to confirm the presidential nominations.
During his press conference on Thursday, Biden repeatedly dodged questions related to the filibuster rule, which has become a point of contention even among Senate Democrats as they seek to steer key legislation priorities beyond the Republican opposition.
However, Biden has so far been most direct in advocating a return to a version of the so-called speaking filibuster, which would require a senator or group of senators to speak to delay a law.
“I strongly support the movement in this direction,” said Biden, complaining that the filibuster is “being abused in gigantic ways.”
However, a speaking filibuster requirement that did not lower the 60-vote threshold to pass most laws would not address the most important challenge facing Senate Democrats lately: winning 10 Republican votes.
Biden also suggested that he would be “open” to exemptions from the filibuster for “certain things that are only fundamental to the functioning of our democracy, such as the right to vote”.
And while Biden said he agreed with former President Barack Obama’s description of the filibuster as a relic of the Jim Crow era, he did not call for it to be abolished altogether.
“Successful electoral politics is the art of the possible,” said Biden, adding to the filibuster, “It has been abused in extreme ways from the very beginning for the past 20 years. Let’s deal with the abuse first.”
Some Democratic lawmakers, particularly the House Majority Whip, James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Have spoken before Congress in favor of outsourcing the filibuster for comprehensive voting rights legislation. However, any particular reform is unlikely to succeed with the Senate Democrats as they weigh changes to the rules.
“We changed the filibuster in the past,” said Biden. “But here’s the deal: As you noticed, I’m a pretty practical guy. I want things to get done. I want them to be in line with what we promised the American people.”
In addition to the talking filibuster style change he was discussing, Biden warned, “If we – if there is total lockdown and chaos as a result of the filibuster – we must go beyond what I am talking about.”