President Joe Biden said that he was ready to push forward with the Democrats’ sweeping overhaul on voting rights and processes — H.R. 1, known as the For the People Act — even if it meant supporting a change in Senate rules that would allow his party to circumvent the filibuster.
Biden made the comments during a sit-down interview with ABC’s David Muir which aired Wednesday, and although most of the interview was focused on the rising wave of COVID-19 — driven primarily by the Omicron variant — Muir turned the topic to the Democrats’ plan to make dramatic changes in federal election procedures and asked the president how he planned to get that done in a Senate that is, quite literally, split down the middle.
“You know, many of your supporters believe in order to protect democracy in this country, you’ve got to protect voters’ rights. Yet, as we near the end of year one, nothing’s been done. It’s been blocked by the filibuster,” Muir began. “Are you prepared to support fundamental changes in the Senate rules to get this done?”
“Yes,” Biden answered immediately.
“What does that mean?” Muir pressed the president to elaborate.
“It means whatever it takes. Change the Senate rules to accommodate major pieces of legislation without requiring 60 votes,” Biden replied, appearing to suggest that he would support getting rid of the legislative filibuster for not only H.R.-1 but possibly for other “major pieces of legislation” as well.
“So you support a carve-out of the filibuster for voting rights,” Muir repeated.
“The only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster. I support making the exception of voting rights for the filibuster,” Biden confirmed.
EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Biden to @DavidMuir: “If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making the exception of voting rights for the filibuster.” https://t.co/jaaJVXY2EW pic.twitter.com/O42GECbIxO
— ABC News (@ABC) December 23, 2021
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also confirmed the president’s position on the issue during Thursday’s press briefing, saying that Biden “is prepared to support changes [to the filibuster] if that’s the only thing standing in the way of getting [voting rights legislation] done.”
PSAKI: Biden “is prepared to support changes [to the filibuster] if that’s the only thing standing in the way of getting [voting rights legislation] done.” pic.twitter.com/A2R9Iun6BI
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) December 23, 2021
Biden’s position on the matter has evolved since 2019, when he said during a campaign stop that it would be “dangerous” to get rid of the filibuster.
“Ending the filibuster is a very dangerous thing to do,” he said at the time.
Flashback to Biden in 2019:
“Ending the filibuster is a very dangerous thing to do.” pic.twitter.com/0HgEJ9EDMs
— The First (@TheFirstonTV) December 23, 2021
A number of prominent Democrats have called for an end to the filibuster at least with regard to voting rights, arguing that the issue is too important for the traditional rules of the Senate to keep them from getting it done.
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) added his support to that of Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA), saying. “Our democracy is in danger and we absolutely must act to save it.”
My friend @SenatorWarnock is correct – our democracy is in danger and we absolutely must act to save it.
I support changing the rules around the filibuster for voting rights legislation to get it done. pic.twitter.com/oQhutHx331
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) December 15, 2021
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) could prove to be a roadblock on this particular issue as well, as he has said repeatedly that he would not support ending the filibuster in any fashion, even if it were simply a “carveout” that would only apply to H.R.-1.
Manchin also signals that he isn’t in favor of changing the filibuster rules for voting rights. So that’s basically it for Biden’s agenda in this Congress. pic.twitter.com/wY87eWLBFy
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 19, 2021
Manchin recently announced that he would not support Biden’s massive social spending package, better known as the Build Back Better Act, effectively killing the bill just before Democratic leadership’s self-imposed Christmas deadline.