Biden endorses Senate filibuster change as Dems push to implement progressive agenda

Pollemix News – March 17, 2021
President Joe Biden threw his support behind changing Senate filibuster rules as Democrats seek to muscle legislation through Washington gridlock. Biden’s endorsement comes on the heels of growing support among Democrat Senators who are looking to overcome GOP obstruction to progressive agenda items including a public option for healthcare, immigration reform, infrastructure spending, canceling student debt and increasing taxes on the wealthy.

Speaking to ABC News, Biden expressed support for a return to the ‘speaking filibuster’ which only allowed a member to block legislation for as long as he was able to continuously speak on the floor of the Senate.

“I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days. You had to stand up and command the floor, and you had to keep talking.”

Adding, “It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.”

Current rules only require a Senator to register opposition to a bill, mandating 60 votes to break the Senate filibuster; a situation which has caused near perpetual gridlock on any major legislation being passed in recent years. Biden’s shift on changing the filibuster falls short of the complete abolition that the progressive wing of the Democrat party has called for but is a signal that he is prepared to circumvent Republicans as he seeks to implement his legislative agenda.

Biden’s support for a speaking filibuster is also an olive branch to conservative Democrats such as Joe Manchin who have condemned calls for the elimination of the Senate filibuster but expressed support for making it harder for Republicans to obstruct legislation. Senate Leader Chuck Schumer has also backed changes to the filibuster rule, as has Majority Whip Dick Durbin who gave a scathing floor speech on Monday calling the filibuster “the death grip of democracy.”

The endorsement from President Biden comes on the heels of a dire threat from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who warned that should Democrats plow ahead with changes to the filibuster rules, Republicans would engage in a “scorched earth” retaliation by deliberately grinding the day-to-day functioning of the Senate to a halt.

“Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues. Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” McConnell said.

“This chaos would not open up an express lane to liberal change. It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books. The Senate would be more like a hundred-car pile-up. Nothing moving,” he elaborated.

McConnell then issued an ultimatum that should Democrats kill the Senate filibuster Republicans would not only overturn any liberal policies implemented but launch a wave of conservative agenda items on their return to power.

“…we wouldn’t just erase every liberal change that hurt the country. We’d strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero input from the other side. How about this? Nationwide right to work for working Americans. Defunding Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities on day one, a whole new era of domestic energy production,” he said.

Adding, “Sweeping new protections for conscience and the right to life of the unborn. Concealed carry reciprocity in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Massive hardening of security on our Southern border…So the pendulum, Mr. President would swing both ways and it would swing hard.”

Supporters of the filibuster maintain that it protects the right of the minority party in the Senate but progressives agitating for its abolition claim that it is being wielded as a weapon by Republicans to ensure permanent gridlock in the Senate and prevent any progressive legislation from being passed.

Moreover, Democrats have become increasingly emboldened following the passage of the $1.9 Trillion Covid bill and say that the fact there was no Republican support for the overwhelmingly popular bill is proof that the GOP has abandoned any facade of collaborative governance. Thus McConnell’s threat to impede legislation if the filibuster rules are changed is an empty one, considering Republicans are already engaged in actively sabotaging the Biden agenda. With the President now on board, however, it appears that Democrats are falling into line and the days of the Senate filibuster look numbered in what may well be the most monumental shift on Capitol Hill in decades.

POLL: Should the Senate Filibuster be abolished?

In recent times Washington has been almost perpetually in a state of gridlock. Current Senate filibuster rules require 60 votes rather than a 51 vote simple majority in order for legislation to pass, a near impossibility in an increasingly partisan America.

Democrats are now pushing for the filibuster to be eliminated to allow the party in power to pass their legislative agenda by a simple majority rather than the 60 vote threshold. Do you support abolishing the filibuster?