facebook linkedin twitter

Biden: Senate Filibuster Change on Debt a ‘Real Possibility’

October 6, 2021by Lisa Mascaro, AP Congressional Correspondent
President Joe Biden talks with reporters after returning to the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, after a trip to Michigan to promote his infrastructure plan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — To get around Republican obstruction, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Democrats are considering a change to the Senate’s filibuster rules in order to quickly approve lifting the nation’s debt limit  and avoid what would be a devastating credit default.

The president’s surprise remarks come as the Senate is tangled in a fiscally dangerous standoff over a vote that’s needed to suspend the nation’s debt limit and allow the federal government to continue borrowing to pay down its balances. Congress has just days to act before the Oct. 18 deadline when the Treasury Department has warned it will run short of funds to handle the nation’s already accrued debt load. 

Biden has resisted any filibuster rule changes over other issues, but his off-the-cuff comments Tuesday night interjected a new urgency to an increasingly uncertain situation.

“It’s a real possibility,” Biden told reporters outside the White House.

Getting rid of the filibuster rule would lower the typical 60-vote threshold for passage to 50. In the split 50-50 Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie, allowing Democrats to push past Republicans.

The topic was broached during a private Democratic Senate lunch session Tuesday as senators were growing exasperated with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow a simple vote on the debt limit. Instead, McConnell is forcing Democrats to undertake what they view as a cumbersome process taking days, if not weeks, that will eat into their agenda. 

With Republicans putting up hurdles to the vote, Democratic senators have been discussing a range of options — including a carve-out to the chamber’s filibuster rules. 

But invoking a filibuster rules change seems highly unlikely, in part because all Democratic senators would need to be on board. 

At his weekly press conference, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., did not embrace — or reject — the idea of changing the filibuster for this one specific issue. 

Instead, Schumer simply repeated what he, Biden and others have said — that Republicans should ” get out of the way” and allow Democrats to pass the measure that’s already been approved and sent over from the House.

“The best way to get this done is for Republicans to just get out of the way,” Schumer said.

He said the burden to stand aside is on McConnell’s shoulders. 

McConnell, though, wants to force Democrats to use the process he favors, which gives Republicans ample time to remind voters about the unpopular vote. 

Dug in Tuesday, McConnell refused to budge.

“They’ve had plenty of time to execute the debt ceiling increase,” McConnell said about the Democrats. “They need to do this — and the sooner they get about it, the better.”

Once a routine matter, raising the debt limit has become politically treacherous over the past decade or more, used by Republicans, in particular, to rail against government spending and the rising debt load, now at $28 trillion.

The fact is, both parties have contributed to the debt and the nation has run a deficit most years for decades.

The filibuster has been up for debate all year, as Biden and his allies consider ways to work around Republican opposition to much of their agenda.

Biden has not backed earlier calls to end the filibuster for other topics — namely voting law changes. But Tuesday’s comments could signal a new phase.

At least one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., sounded resistant Tuesday. He and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have raised objections to ending the filibuster on other topics this year.

The standoff over the debt ceiling that started weeks ago as a routine political skirmish is now entering more serious territory, as the senators risk a rare federal default if no agreement is reached.

That could set off a cascading fiscal crisis, rippling through not just the government and financial markets, but the ordinary economy and the lives of Americans.

White House

October 15, 2021
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court Commission Finds Crisis In Senate Confirmation Process

WASHINGTON -- A presidential panel charged with considering the pros and cons of altering the size and function of the... Read More

WASHINGTON -- A presidential panel charged with considering the pros and cons of altering the size and function of the U.S. Supreme Court is instead calling out the Senate confirmation process for justices. In draft documents released ahead of a public meeting on Friday, the Presidential... Read More

October 14, 2021
by Dan McCue
White House Action on Supply Chain Bottleneck Seen As First Step To Ending Crisis

WASHINGTON -- They’ve almost become as ubiquitous as scenes of weathermen and women leaning into the fierce winds of a... Read More

WASHINGTON -- They’ve almost become as ubiquitous as scenes of weathermen and women leaning into the fierce winds of a tropical storm during hurricane season. We refer, of course, to the daily television news footage of a reporter bobbing up and down in a decidedly modest... Read More

Border Residents Rejoice as US Says it Will Lift Travel Ban

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Beleaguered business owners and families separated by COVID-19 restrictions rejoiced Wednesday after the U.S. said it... Read More

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Beleaguered business owners and families separated by COVID-19 restrictions rejoiced Wednesday after the U.S. said it will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze. Travel across land borders from Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Dan McCue
Haaland Reveals Administration Plan for Massive Expansion of Offshore Wind

BOSTON, Mass. -- Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told attendees at a wind energy conference on Wednesday that the Biden administration... Read More

BOSTON, Mass. -- Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told attendees at a wind energy conference on Wednesday that the Biden administration wants to dramatically expand the nation’s use of wind power, opening large swaths of coastal waters to wind farm development. In a speech before American Clean... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Dan McCue
White House Steps Up Fight Against Supply Chain Woes

WASHINGTON --  In an ideal economy, the nation’s supply chains work something like this: raw materials, finished products and ready-to-assemble... Read More

WASHINGTON --  In an ideal economy, the nation’s supply chains work something like this: raw materials, finished products and ready-to-assemble merchandise like cars and trucks flow into the nation’s ports. The largest of these ports, those blessed to sit on deep-water harbors, typically have rail tracks... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Reece Nations
Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team Announced as White House Mulls Oversight

WASHINGTON -- The Biden administration is taking steps to address the growing threat of cybercrime while considering whether to issue... Read More

WASHINGTON -- The Biden administration is taking steps to address the growing threat of cybercrime while considering whether to issue an executive order on issues surrounding the illicit use of cryptocurrency. A White House National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters that the... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top