Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was heralded as a centrist during the primary season, but he has since veered sharply toward the left in an effort to secure the support of the party’s far-left base.
As such, Biden appears to be reversing course on a position he has held for decades — namely, his support for the filibuster in the Senate, something he has recently signaled an openness to ending, the Washington Examiner reported.
Biden’s shifting stance
As someone who served the state of Delaware in the Senate for decades, Biden knows full well the power and importance of the filibuster. The procedural tactic requires a 60-senator majority to end debate on a bill and move toward a vote, something which can prevent radical measures from the fringes of either party from being pushed through with a simple majority vote.
Yet many Democrats, with an eye toward achieving a slim Senate majority of their own matched with a Biden presidency starting in January, have increasingly suggested that getting rid of the filibuster is the best — perhaps only — way to effectively sidestep the inevitable Republican opposition to their more extreme proposals.
During a conference call with journalists on Monday, however, Biden was asked directly if he would support an effort to end the Senate filibuster in order to clear the way for Democrats to push through a progressive policy agenda and reform with just a simple majority.
“It’s going to depend on how obstreperous they become,” Biden said of Republicans, according to The New York Times, placing the onus on the GOP to accede to the left’s whims. He did reference his prior support of the filibuster and optimism that common ground could be found with the GOP, but added of ending the filibuster, “But I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.”
That response, however, stands in stark contrast to the position Biden staked out just six months earlier in a lengthy interview with the editorial board of Times in January, during which he was asked about a number of “major structural reforms” proposed by Democrats, such as abolishing the Electoral College, adding more justices to the Supreme Court, imposing term limits on federal judges, and ending the filibuster in the Senate.
Biden expressed his opposition to all of those ideas and explained, “Because that structural change requires constitutional amendments. It raises problems that are more damaging than the problem that exists.”
He also specifically stated that he’d keep the legislative filibuster in place, even with a Democratic majority, “Because there’s a lot of things people agree on,” and noted, “I think we can reach consensus on that and get it passed without changing the filibuster rule.”
Biden added, “There are other areas where if you were to change the rule, first of all, if you couldn’t get it changed, if you can’t get 60 votes, the fact that you’re going to amend the Constitution on judicial independence is kind of a stretch.”
Unfortunately, whether or not Biden even recalls his prior opposition to ending the filibuster, it appears that the radical voices on the left have fully reached Biden’s ears and changed his way of thinking about what may be the most valuable debate tool in the Senate.
Without the filibuster in place, it would be exceptionally difficult — if not impossible — for a minority party to stop the majority from imposing its will on the nation, and given the nature of the legislative and policy proposals put forward by Democrats in recent memory, that is a truly frightening prospect indeed.