President Joe Biden on Wednesday reiterated his position against eliminating the filibuster, warning it would lead to “chaos,” even as Republican obstruction threatens to derail his agenda.
Biden was pressed on his position by a questioner at a CNN town hall in Ohio after the president called Republican efforts to restrict voting rights "the most dangerous threat to voting in the integrity of free and fair elections in our history.”
“While you have condemned these attacks, you and congressional members of your party have done little to actually stop these assaults,” the audience member said. “If these efforts are really the ‘most dangerous in our history,’ isn't it logical to get rid of the filibuster so we can protect our democracy and secure the right to vote?”
Biden said he stands by his characterization, calling the bills that have advanced in certain state legislatures “Jim Crow on steroids.”
The president admitted that “abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming” and reminisced about the old days when segregationist Senate leaders like Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd had to hold the floor for hours to sustain a filibuster.
Biden warns of “chaos”:
CNN host Don Lemon pressed Biden on “what difference does it make” if senators are forced to talk to hold the floor.
“Why is protecting the filibuster, is that more important than protecting voting rights, especially for people who fought and died for that?” Lemon questioned.
Biden said “it’s not” and called for the passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have little chance of passing after Republicans already filibustered the For the People Act.
Biden said he wants to bring along Republicans and “bring the country together.”
“If it's a relic of Jim Crow, it's been used to fight against civil rights legislation historically, why protect it?” Lemon pressed.
“There's no reason to protect it other than you're going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done,” Biden argued.
But… little is getting done now:
Despite Biden’s warning, the Republican use of the filibustered has already slowed the president’s agenda to a crawl.
Republicans have already filibustered or threatened to filibuster Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal, voting rights, the Pro Act -- which would expand labor rights, the Equality Act -- which would extend civil rights protections to members of the LGBTQ community, and any Democratic effort at DC or Puerto Rico statehood or immigration reform.
Republicans are already threatening to deny Biden a Supreme Court pick if they win back the Senate in 2022 and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the party would oppose raising the debt ceiling, which could result in economic calamity if a deal is not reached.