Biden is open to removing filibuster for "and maybe more" voting rights bill

WASHINGTON – President Biden said on Thursday he was prepared to end the filibustering of the Senate so Democrats can pass voting rights...


WASHINGTON – President Biden said on Thursday he was prepared to end the filibustering of the Senate so Democrats can pass voting rights legislation, raise the federal debt limit and possibly pass more parts of his program that had been blocked by Republicans.

Speaking at a CNN town hall, the president also expressed optimism about the passage of his infrastructure and social safety net bills, although he offered candid descriptions of negotiations. behind closed doors with two democratic refractories.

Mr Biden previously said changing the filibuster rules to allow a debt limit vote was “”a real possibilityBut his Thursday night remarks suggested he was prepared to pursue broader changes to bypass Republican opposition.

As mayor, he said ending filibuster – a senatorial tradition that allows the minority party to kill legislation that does not garner 60 votes – would have to wait after it gets its spending bills passed. , which are being negotiated at Capitol Hill. .

The president said he would lose “at least three votes” on his social policy bill if he ended the filibuster. He did not say which senators he would lose.

But Mr. Biden has been outspoken about his intentions once the debate on the spending bills is over. He said the need for sweeping Democrat-favored voting rights legislation is “just as important” as the debt-limit vote, which protects the full faith and credit of the United States.

Asked by Anderson Cooper, the event’s host, if that meant he would be willing to end the use of filibuster so Democrats could pass a franchise bill, Mr. Biden said, “and maybe more.”

The president said activists pushing to end filibuster to pass voting rights legislation “make a very good point,” adding: “We’re going to have to get to the point where we fundamentally change the obstruction”.

Liberal activists have grown increasingly frustrated with Mr Biden in recent months, as Republicans have used filibuster to prevent action on major elements of the Democratic agenda. They have accused the president and his allies in Congress for being too passive in refusing to change the rules.

Wednesday, Republicans blocked action on legislation to strengthen voting rights for the third time since Mr Biden took office. All 50 Democrats and Independents backed the vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, but all 50 Republicans voted against, thwarting legislation that Democrats say would thwart efforts by Republican-controlled states to impose further restrictions on voting rights. vote.

Some Democrats have urged the president to push for changes to the filibuster so he can pass an immigration overhaul, address prison reform and enact more ambitious climate change legislation. If the filibuster remains intact, they say, Mr Biden will step down with half of his priorities unfulfilled.

“Black and brown voters are tired of seeing the same scene repeat over and over again,” Just Democracy spokesperson Stephany R. Spaulding said in a statement last week. “We are launching Herculean mobilizations to elect the Democrats. Democrats are introducing legislation that would benefit communities of color, and Republicans won’t even engage in good faith debate. “

“The Democrats in the Senate can no longer dissociate the filibustering of the promises and the problems they have addressed,” she added. “They must act urgently to get rid of the filibuster.”

Democrats appeared to be gaining momentum to change the filibuster rules this month, after Republicans threatened to use the tool to prevent an increase in the debt limit, a move that economists say could lead to financial disaster.

But Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and Minority Leader, backed down and allowed a vote on a bill that raised the debt ceiling until at least early December.

Mr Biden’s comments on Thursday are expected to give Democratic activists new hope that he will tackle the filibuster. He also said he supported the idea of ​​bringing back a rule that would require senators to filibuster by speaking and automatically terminating proceedings once two senators have given their speeches.

The president spoke about the filibuster during a 90-minute event in which he also expressed confidence that Democrats were closer to a deal on his broad domestic policy agenda, which he said would exceed the Affordable Care Act in its scope and impact on American society.

To move this package forward despite Republicans’ unanimous opposition, Democrats are using a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation, which protects tax laws from obstruction. But Mr. Biden needs the support of the 50 Senate Democrats and nearly every House Democrat.

“We’re down to four or five questions, which I’m not going to negotiate on national television,” he said. Lawmakers and aides familiar with the discussion say the talks are largely focused on up to $ 2,000 billion in spending over 10 years.

But after weeks of largely shrouded in talks, the president presented a detailed assessment of how he and Congressional Democrats were scaling back an initial $ 3.5 trillion plan, including negotiations with two centrist refractories, Senators. Joe Manchin III from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.

Mr Biden acknowledged that expanding Medicare benefits to cover dental care, vision and hearing – long championed by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee – was “a reach” to because of Mr. Manchin and, according to him, of Ms. Manchin. Sinema. Instead, the president said they were looking to provide an $ 800 voucher for dental care. Ms Sinema seemed open to the benefit of the hearing, he added, and negotiations continued on the vision.

“Look, in the United States Senate, when you have 50 Democrats, everyone is president,” Biden said.

He has publicly admitted that his plans to raise the corporate tax rate could be left out of the bill due to opposition from Ms. Sinema.

“She says she won’t take a single dime in corporate tax and / or the wealthy, period,” Biden said. “And so that’s where it kind of falls apart.”

Ms. Sinema has privately pledged to enact enough alternative tax arrangements to fully fund up to $ 2 trillion in spending, a person familiar with her thinking said. A White House official later clarified that the president was specifically referring to the corporate rate.

But while Ms Sinema supported Mr Biden’s environmental agenda and much of his proposed spending, he said, Mr Manchin remained opposed to a clean electricity program. Instead, the president said, he pushed Mr Manchin, who has hesitant to spend more than $ 1.5 trillion, to approve the reorientation of approximately $ 150 billion set aside for the program towards other policies that would encourage climate-friendly actions.

“Joe is ready for me to convince him that I can use it to increase environmental progress without it being this particular deal,” Biden said.

He also conceded that two years of free community college would be removed from the plan due to opposition from Mr. Manchin and at least one other Democrat, and instead looking to increase the money available for Pell Grants. . The length of a federal paid family and medical leave program had been reduced to four weeks instead of 12, Biden said. And he rejected a proposal, which was reportedly raised by Mr Manchin, that an increase in monthly payments to families with children should have a work requirement.

Carl Hulse contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden is open to removing filibuster for "and maybe more" voting rights bill
Biden is open to removing filibuster for "and maybe more" voting rights bill
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