Joe Biden sends mixed messaging on the filibuster as he claims it’s a ‘relic of Jim Crow era’ but has been historically abused by lawmakers – and claims after 36 years in Senate he still isn’t expert on congressional rule changes
- President Joe Biden appeared to move closer to embracing abolishing the filibuster on Thursday – but sent some mixed messaging on the matter
- When asked if he thinks the rule is a ‘relic of Jim Crow era’, he responded: ‘Yes’
- With only a vice presidential tie-breaking vote majority in the Senate, Democrats are now looking to nix the filibuster
- This would all but assure Democrats could get all desired legislation passed without any Republican support
Joe Biden gave his biggest rebuke of the filibuster yet during his first press conference as president on Thursday where he said the legislative procedure is a ‘relic of the Jim Crow era’ that has been fundamentally abused.
During the same event the president also said it would benefit Congress to continue working under current rules to get things done.
‘Regarding the filibuster, at John Lewis’ funeral, President Barack Obama said he believed the filibuster was a relic of the Jim Crow era. Do you agree?’ CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins asked Biden during his briefing in the East Room Thursday afternoon.
‘Yes,’ he quickly replied.
‘If not, why not abolish it – if it’s a relic of the Jim Crow era?’ Collins pushed.
The president took a long pause where he looked at his notes on the podium.
‘Successful electoral politics in the art of the possible,’ the president started. ‘Let’s figure out how we can get this done and move in the direction of significantly changing the abuse of even the filibuster rule first.’
‘It’s been abused from the time it came into being by an extreme way in the last 20 years. Let’s deal with the abuse first,’ he continued.
President Joe Biden appeared to move closer to embracing abolishing the filibuster on Thursday by calling it a ‘relic of Jim Crow era’ – but he sent some mixed messaging on the topic
With only a vice presidential tie-breaking vote majority in the Senate, Democrats are now looking to nix the filibuster to assure they can get all legislation passed without Republican support
Collins continued in her push for an answer on the president’s stance on the filibuster.
‘It sounds like you’re moving closer to eliminating the filibuster, is that correct?’ she asked.
‘I answered your question,’ he asserted.
Biden’s nationally televised appearance before the press on Day 65 of his presidency was the first time he held a formal question-and-answer session with reporters since taking office.
It is the longest a president has waited to hold a press conference after inauguration in nearly 100 years.
Earlier in the briefing, Washington Post’s White House White House correspondent Seung Min Kim asked Biden about the logistics of the filibuster.
‘Do you believe it should take 60 votes to end a filibuster on legislation or 51?’ Kim asked.
‘If we could end it with 51 we would have no problem,’ Biden chucked of Democrats’ slim Senate majority.
Here is where Biden presented some mixed messaging on his thoughts on the filibuster, appearing to almost defend its existence and advocate for making changes rather than throwing it out completely.
‘You’re going to have to – the existing rules – it’s going to be hard to get a parliamentary ruling that allows 50 votes to end the filibuster – the existence of a filibuster,’ the president fumbled in an appearance riddled with stumbles and gaffes.
‘But, it’s not my expertise in what the parliamentary rules and how to get there are,’ Biden, who spent 36 years in the Senate representing Delaware, said.
He added: ‘Our preoccupation with the filibuster is totally legitimate, but in the meantime we’ve got a lot we can do while we’re talking about what we’re going to do about the filibuster.’
Democrats have been pushing for nixing the filibuster now that they hold a majority in the House, Senate and White House.
Biden held on Thursday his first press conference since taking office 65 days ago – the longest a new president has waited to hold their first question-and-answer session in nearly 100 years
As it stands, Republicans can filibuster legislation they are vehemently against and forcing reconciliation, which requires 60 votes.
Considering the Senate is split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote, Democrats aren’t looking to get to the point where they need any more than 51 votes following a filibuster.
During the briefing Thursday, Biden made another allusion to Jim Crow when he said the GOP attempting to tighten voting laws makes ‘Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.’