Politics

Biden to lobby Senate Dems in person on gutting filibuster for partisan rewrite of U.S. voting laws


President Biden will journey to Capitol Hill on Thursday to implore Senate Democrats to blow up the filibuster and ram through a partisan rewrite of the nation’s voting laws.

Mr. Biden is set to address the Senate Democratic conference during a special lunch session. The president is expected to urge lawmakers to stand united behind blowing up the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold, arguing that participatory democracy itself is at stake.

The remarks are likely to be a reprise of the argument Mr. Biden made earlier this week during a speech in Atlanta.

“I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote,” Mr. Biden said. “Let the majority prevail. And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.”

Democrats increasingly view the filibuster as an obstacle standing in the way of implementing the White House’s domestic agenda. Such talk has only gained steam in recent weeks since the demise of Mr. Biden’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill.

Changing the filibuster and passing the election and voting bills would give Mr. Biden and congressional Democrats a sorely needed legislative win ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. It would also help appease Black voters, a key Democratic voting bloc that has been disappointed by Mr. Biden’s failure to deliver promised racial justice laws despite Democrats’ control of the White House and Congress.

“The time has come for the Senate to pass voting rights legislation and take whatever steps necessary to address this chamber’s rules in order to accomplish that goal,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

For the effort to succeed, Mr. Schumer would need support from all 50 Democrats in the evenly split Senate.

Standing in the way, however, are a cadre of moderate Democrats, most notably Sen. Joe Manchin III. The West Virginia lawmaker, who single-handedly derailed Mr. Biden’s social welfare package over inflation concerns, has expressed reservations about blowing up the filibuster.  

“We need some good rules changes to make the place work better,” said Mr. Manchin. “But getting rid of the filibuster doesn’t make it work better.”




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