BIDEN SEEKS SENATE RULE CHANGES TO END GOP SABOTAGE
President Joe Biden at his first news conference Thursday (Friday, March 26, 2021, in Manila) left the door open to backing fundamental changes in Senate rules to push key parts of his agenda like immigration and voting rights past Republican opposition “if there’s complete lockdown and chaos.”
The 78-year-old president also for the first time said his “plan is to run for reelection, that is my expectation,” Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Even as his administration navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic damage, Biden is grappling with a host of pressing issues, including a pair of mass shootings, rising international tensions, early signs of divisions within his party, and increasing numbers of migrants crossing the southern border.
The president preached the political expedience of caution in the face of mounting impatience among progressive voters eager for action on his ambitious legislative agenda. He teased changes to the congressional filibuster if necessary to achieve some of those goals.
Biden at first backed a modification — but not elimination — of the arcane procedural tactic, which stands in the way of getting the president’s agenda through the deadlocked Senate.
But he then suggested, at least on certain issues, he would go further, saying the filibuster — which requires 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate — was being “abused in a gigantic way” by Republicans.
“If there’s complete lockdown and chaos, as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’re going to have to go beyond what I’m talking about,” he said. “I want to get things done. I want to get them done consistent with what we promised the American people,” said Biden, who spent decades in the Senate. “I am going to say something outrageous: I have never been particularly poor at calculating how to get things done in the United States Senate.”