Biden says he supports filibuster carve-out for voting rights

President Joe Biden says he supports making an exception to the Senate filibuster rules in order to pass voting rights legislation.

“If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making the exception of voting rights for the filibuster,” Biden told ABC News’ David Muir in an interview that aired Thursday morning.

It’s the most direct answer Biden has given on his position on the filibuster and voting rights.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Biden at a CNN town hall in October, “When it comes to voting rights, just so I’m clear though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue, is that correct?”

“And maybe more,” Biden responded.

Since Democrats won a slim majority in Congress, Republicans have blocked several Democratic-sponsored bills that seek to expand voting access and aim to end voter suppression, arguing that the proposals are a federal power grab. That’s led some progressive Democrats and activists to demand an end to the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to advance most legislation, in order to pass federal voting rights protections. But Democrats also don’t have the votes they need in the Senate to change the filibuster due to opposition from members of their own party, including from Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Now, with Republican-led state legislators planning to push a number of voting restrictions ahead of the crucial 2022 midterms, new urgency has been injected into the voting rights fight.

In a letter sent to Democratic colleagues dated Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate will consider voting rights legislation once Congress resumes in January, “as early as the first week back.”

He also suggested that the Senate would consider a vote on changing the filibuster rules.

“If Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster and prevent the body from considering this bill, the Senate will then consider changes to any rules which prevent us from debating and reaching final conclusion on important legislation,” the New York Democrat said.

Biden, who was previously a longtime US senator, has resisted efforts to eliminate the filibuster altogether.

He told CNN’s Don Lemon during a town hall in July that there would be “no reason” to protect the filibuster “other than you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done.”

And at CNN’s town hall in October, Biden said that attempting to eliminate the filibuster would hamper his chances of passing his economic agenda. Biden had previously proposed that the Senate return to a “talking filibuster,” a rule requiring a senator who wants to block legislation to hold the floor without breaks, but still requires 60 votes to end debate on the bill.

Meanwhile, Biden has vowed to “keep up the fight” to pass voting legislation and urged Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, neither of which have a realistic chance of garnering the 10 Republican votes necessary to break a filibuster.

This story has been updated with additional background information.

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