Biden Still Against Ending Filibuster, Says Press Secretary

January 22, 2021 Updated: January 22, 2021

President Joe Biden remains opposed to ending the filibuster rule, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

When asked at a press briefing on Friday on whether Biden’s position on the rule had changed, Psaki replied bluntly“He has spoken to this many times. His position has not changed.” 

Last year Biden went on the record as being against nuking the filibuster.

The filibuster is a procedure that can be used to delay or block legislative action and it has a long history. It first became popular in the 1850s when it was used to hold the Senate floor in order to prevent a vote on a bill. It quickly became a tool employed by minority factions to halt legislation that had majority support. Then, around the start of World War I, the cloture rule was added, making it possible to end a debate with a two-thirds majority vote.

The modern filibuster rules essentially require a super-majority threshold, now at 60 votes, to cut off debate in the Senate and bring legislative bills or other measures to a vote.

On Thursday, Psaki was asked to clarify what Biden’s position was on the filibuster. At that briefing Psaki did not offer a direct response.

“The President has been clear: He wants to work with members of both parties and find bipartisan paths forward,” Psaki said in response to the question. “And I don’t have any more conversations to read out for you at this point in time.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had recently urged Democrats to keep the filibuster. Liberals and progressives are eager to to do away with the rule so Biden’s legislative priorities can be approved with little to no GOP support.

McConnell has told Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer that retaining the legislative filibuster is important and should be part of their negotiations for a power-sharing agreement in the narrowly divided Senate.

Schumer, however, said on Friday that he won’t accept McConnell’s request to protect the filibuster.

“Leader McConnell expressed his long-held view that the crucial, longstanding and bipartisan Senate rules concerning the legislative filibuster remain intact, specifically during the power share for the next two years,” McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said.

It’s unclear the Democrats would even have support from their ranks to undo the legislative filibuster, which would require a vote in the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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