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Biden Backs Exception to Filibuster Rule to Pass 'Major Pieces of Legislation'

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Joe Biden told ABC’s Dave Muir that he supported a change in Senate rules that would eliminate the 60-vote rule for legislation to make it to the floor for a vote.

It isn’t a total destruction of the filibuster; Biden would still have to get all 50 Democrats to sign off on any of his legislative initiatives. But it certainly makes passage of Biden’s agenda more probable.

Related: Sinema Not Budging on Changing Filibuster Rules to Pass Voting Legislation

Biden was responding to a question about Democrat’s voting rights legislation that has languished because there are no Republicans willing to support it. But Biden made it clear that he favored a carve-out on the filibuster for other legislative initiatives as well.

The Hill:

“That means whatever it takes. Change the Senate rules to accommodate major pieces of legislation without requiring 60 votes,” Biden said.

When asked to clarify that he supported a carveout for voting rights legislation from the 60-vote threshold needed to pass most bills in the Senate, Biden said that he did.

“The only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making an exception on voting rights of the filibuster,” Biden said.

The two Senate holdouts, Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, are both on board to vote for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, while Manchin has expressed reservations about the other major voting legislation, the For the People Act.

The latter legislation would federalize elections, taking most of the power to conduct elections away from the states. It would eliminate all voter ID laws and basically destroy any confidence the American people have in free and fair elections.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court found unconstitutional. It would once again put southern states under the microscope and in the crosshairs of the DoJ.

It’s not likely that the For the People Act could pass the Senate in its present form. It passed the House in March. But although Sinema supports it, Manchin voted against it last July. Would the Democrats be able to satisfy Manchin? He accused his fellow Democrats of seeking partisan advantage the last time he voted against the For the People Act, and said he believed it’s just as important to secure the integrity of the vote as it is to prevent states from “restricting” the vote.

The whole point of the For the People Act is that it’s a partisan power grab by the Democrats. They would have to vastly restructure it to get Manchin’s vote. That probably won’t happen.

More likely, the Democrats take the easy win and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act after suspending the filibuster rule. They may even get a couple of Republicans to vote with them on the bill.

Biden could then claim he had “done something” about elections.