President Biden for the first time Tuesday publicly endorsed changing the Senate's filibuster rules so if a senator wanted to block a bill, he or she would have to earn it.
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos broached the topic in an interview segment released Tuesday night, asking Biden if he will "have to choose between preserving the filibuster and advancing your agenda." Biden said yes, but "I don't think that you have to eliminate the filibuster — you have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate, back in the old days," when "you had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking" and "work for the filibuster."
Stephanopoulos followed up to make sure Biden is "for bringing back the talking filibuster," and Biden said yes, he is. "That's what it was supposed to be," he said. "It's getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning."
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Senate Democrats, who narrowly lead the 50-50 chamber, would need every member of their caucus to change the filibuster rules, and several moderate Democrats — including Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), plus Biden — oppose eliminating the filibuster altogether. But Manchin and other Democrats, most recently Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), have voiced support for switching back to a talking filibuster.
"The filibuster allows a senator to block a bill by refusing to yield the floor unless at least 60 colleagues vote to end the debate and proceed to a vote," The Washington Post explains. "In recent years, the objecting senator has not had to actually speak for hours — instead, simply announcing an intent to filibuster is enough to block the bill." Currently, NBC News adds, "the onus is on the majority to find 60 votes to advance legislation; if it falls short, it stalls. A talking filibuster would shift the onus to the minority to hold the floor and speak incessantly until it gives up or the majority pulls the bill."
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