Biden: Alter Filibuster If Need Be for Voting Rights

President says he'd support working around the rule for this issue
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2021 5:55 PM CST
Biden Would Circumvent Filibuster for Voting Rights
President Biden attends a meeting with his task force on supply chain issues on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – The Senate's filibuster rule is one of the main obstacles to passage of a voting rights law. President Biden, a longtime member of the Senate, says he no longer supports letting that barrier—which requires 60 votes to approve most measures—remain. "If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting it passed is the filibuster, I support making an exception on voting rights for the filibuster," Biden said in an ABC interview that aired Thursday. It was the most straightforward answer the president has given on the issue, CNN reports.

The pressure on the issue has increased lately, per Axios. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Democrats the Senate will take up voting rights next month and consider "changes to any rules" blocking the bill. Biden has suggested modifying the filibuster before, and he earlier said eliminating it might hurt his ability to move his economic legislation through the Senate. The family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has said the holiday in his honor shouldn't be celebrated next month unless progress has been made on voting rights.

Of course, the filibuster rule could stay in place if 10 Republican senators would vote in favor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. They have not, arguing that Democratic plans to prevent voter suppression and increase voter access are a power grab. Voting rights measures have passed the House. Biden and Schumer don't have the votes at the moment to change the filibuster, because they don't have the support of Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. (Voting rights legislation is just one of the reasons Democrats need Sen. Joe Manchin on their side.)

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