(CNN)President Joe Biden called the ongoing efforts in Republican state legislatures to pass restrictive voting legislation “Jim Crow on steroids” during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati on Wednesday night.
Moments later, pressed by CNN’s Don Lemon on whether the filibuster should be abolished in order to pass a broad voting rights bill currently stuck in the Senate, Biden demurred.”There’s no reason to protect [the filibuster] other than you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done,” the President told Lemon. “Nothing at all will get done. And there’s a lot at stake.”Which will piss off a whole lot of liberals.Biden has been consistent in his position — opposed to eliminating the filibuster, interested in the so-called “talking filibuster” — although some on the left had hoped that the GOP’s block of an independent commission to examine the January 6 US Capitol riot as well as the continued unwillingness by Senate Republicans to consider the “For The People” Act would change his mind.Read More
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That hope appears to be an empty one. In fact, Biden seemed, at least during a CNN-sponsored town hall on Wednesday night, to cast the focus on the filibuster as nothing more than a Republican-created distraction.”I’m trying to bring the country together,” Biden insisted. “And I don’t want the debate to only be about whether or not we have a filibuster or exceptions to the filibuster or going back to the way the filibuster had to be used before.”That will sound, to many liberals, like a hopelessly naive view of the political world. Biden’s belief that the Trump fever will, at some point, break is cause for eyerolls and exasperated sighs within the base of the Democratic Party.(Sidebar: Both Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have said they oppose jettisoning the filibuster, meaning that even if Biden favored doing so, Democrats couldn’t make it happen.)Their concerns are compounded by the history of midterm elections for the party in power; if history holds, Democrats will almost certainly lose the House majority and could well lose control of the Senate as well — at which point Biden’s ability to get anything done in his final two years will be greatly constrained.Whether he’s right or wrong on the filibuster, Biden isn’t changing his mind, however. He made that abundantly clear on Wednesday night.The Point: The numbers in the Senate aren’t there. Biden opposes changing it. The filibuster is here to stay. (For now.)