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Biden targets Republican voting bills but says not ready to call for end to filibuster

Biden returned to Democrats' talking point that voting-reform legislation in GOP-led states is "Jim Crow on steroids." 

Updated: July 22, 2021 - 10:26am

President Biden is again taking aim again at Republicans' election-integrity legislation in states across the country, calling it "Jim Crow on steroids." 

Biden made the comments at a CNN town hall-type event Wednesday night. However, he stopped short of backing an end to the Senate filibuster, which would effectively allow congressional Democrats to pass their election reform legislation.

The Democratic president said he didn't want to get "wrapped up" in arguments about the filibuster that will "throw the entire Congress into chaos." 

"There's no reason to protect it other than you're going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done," he said at the live event in Cincinnati. "And there's a lot at stake. The most important one is the right to vote, that's the single most important one."

The filibuster is essential a parliamentary rule that requires 60 votes for a measure to pass in the 100-member Senate. Democrats are hamstrung in their efforts to pass their high-priority voting laws because the Senate is split 40-50 between them and Republicans.

One efforts in such GOP-led states as Georgia and Texas to pass or attempt to pass voting legislation, which Democrats will limit minority access to balloting, Biden said: "Never before has there been an attempt by state legislatures to take over the ability to determine who won. Not count the votes, determine who won." 

The intra-party debate among Senate Democrats continues over the matter of abolishing the filibuster, a move that the president has not yet outright endorsed, but has continually hinted at supporting.

"I've been saying for a long, lone time the abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming," he said Wednesday, adding that when he joined the Senate – some 50 years ago – the filibuster was employed considerably less frequently because it was a talking filibuster. Senators who wished to block legislation were required to hold the chamber floor without stopping talking.