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President Biden said Tuesday that Democrats are considering changing the Senate's filibuster rules in order to get around Republicans who are blocking attempts to raise the debt ceiling.
If the debt ceiling isn't raised by Oct. 18, the U.S. may default on its debt, a bleak scenario which could send the country into a recession. The filibuster imposes a 60-vote threshold, and with the Senate split 50-50, Vice President Kamala Harris would have the tie-breaking vote under a majority-wins rule. However, to get the rules changed, every Senate Democrat would need to be on board, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have previously said they do not support altering the filibuster.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is leading GOP efforts to keep Biden from implementing his economic agenda, repeatedly insisting Democrats use the reconciliation process to raise the debt ceiling. This is too "risky," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, because it could take too much time and might not pass by Oct. 18. Biden told reporters on Tuesday that there are "not many options" if Republicans are going to be "that irresponsible. ... There's not much time left to do it by reconciliation."
When asked by reporters about changing the filibuster rules in order to raise the debt ceiling, Biden responded, "I think that's a real possibility." In July, Biden said getting rid of the filibuster altogether could "throw the Senate into chaos," but he's been adamant about how important it is to raise the debt ceiling, warning that if the U.S. can't pay its bills, it could cause everything from delays in issuing Social Security checks to higher interest rates.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told reporters Tuesday that Democrats are looking at all solutions to the problem. "There's a lot more conversation because Mitch McConnell is threatening to blow up the economy," he said. "The level of frustration in the [Democratic] caucus has gone through the roof."