Biden Surprises Reporters With Remark on Filibuster

He says rule change to raise debt limit is a 'real possibility'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 5, 2021 7:56 PM CDT
Biden: Senate Filibuster Change a 'Real Possibility'
President Biden takes off his mask as he walks off of Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, after returning from a trip to Michigan to promote his infrastructure plan.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – To get around Republican obstruction, President Biden said Tuesday that Democrats are considering a change to the Senate's filibuster rules in order to quickly approve lifting the nation's debt limit and avoid what would be a devastating credit default. "It’s a real possibility," Biden told reporters. The president's surprise remarks come as the Senate is tangled in a fiscally dangerous standoff over a vote that's needed to suspend the nation's debt limit and allow the federal government to continue borrowing to pay down its balances, the AP reports. Congress has just days to act before the Oct. 18 deadline when the Treasury Department has warned it will run short of funds to pay the nation’s already accrued debt load.

Biden has held off on any filibuster rule changes before over other issues, but his off-the-cuff comments Tuesday night interjected a new urgency to an increasingly uncertain situation. Getting rid of the filibuster rule would lower the typical 60-vote threshold for passage to 50. In the split 50-50 Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie, allowing Democrats to push past Republicans. The topic was broached during a private Democratic Senate lunch session Tuesday as senators were growing exasperated with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's refusal to allow a simple vote on the debt limit.

With Republicans putting up hurdles to the vote, Democratic senators have been discussing a range of options—including a carve-out to the chamber’s filibuster rules. But all Democratic senators would need to be on board to make the change, and at least one, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, sounded resistant. He and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have raised objections to ending the filibuster on other topics this year.

(Read more filibuster stories.)

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