Biden says voting rights bills won't pass this week as key senators resist filibuster reform

Biden on election reform bills: 'I don't know if we can get this done'

Updated: January 13, 2022 - 4:52pm

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President Biden indicated on Thursday that the voting rights bills Democratic leaders support won't go through this week, as key senators continue to resist filibuster reform.

"The honest to God answer is I don't know if we can get this done," Biden said after meeting with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. “If we miss the first time, we can come back and try it a second time. We missed this time.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had said the Democrat-led Senate would take a procedural vote on the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and if the GOP used the filibuster to block the legislation, he would bring a rules change to a vote by Jan. 17.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema publicly opposes eliminating the legislative filibuster for specific issues like voting rights. The filibuster is the 60-vote threshold to advance legislation.

"There's no need for me to restate my longstanding support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation. There's no need for me to restate its role in protecting our country from wild reversals of federal policy," Sinema said. "This week's harried discussions about Senate rules are but a poor substitute for what I believe could have and should have been a thoughtful public debate at any time over the past year." 

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin shared a similar view on filibuster reform Thursday, saying that Democrats who support changing Senate rules do not "fully understanding the long-term institutional and democratic damage this will do to the Senate and our nation." Manchin said reforming the 60-vote threshold would “pour fuel onto the fire of political whiplash and dysfunction that is tearing this nation apart.”

“I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” he added.

In the past, both parties have used the Senate legislative filibuster to block legislation that the majority party is trying to advance to passage.

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