While campaigning for the White House, candidate Joe Biden promised to right the ship, restore “normalcy,” decorum, and steadiness to the Oval Office. Yet from the Afghanistan debacle to spiking inflation and border chaos, President Biden’s done anything but that.
Biden’s latest norm-breaking move: his threat to change Senate rules to prevent a GOP filibuster on the eye-popping $28.4 trillion debt ceiling. On Tuesday, by calling shattering Senate norms on the filibuster “a real possibility,” Biden again eroded his campaign image as a Senate-forged institutional man of civility, respectability, and process, yet now he wants to shatter the filibuster, an important Senate rule requiring 60 votes to proceed on most legislation. Senators created the rule to make sure that one majority party didn’t dominate too far over the minority.
Though it appears Wednesday evening that Biden might get a reprieve, as POLITICO reports, “McConnell will let Democrats raise the debt ceiling into December without filibustering the bill, kicking the can on the fight over the debt.” However, The Wall Street Journal summarizes Biden’s filibuster hypocrisy well:
“Democrats keep telling Americans they have the votes and a mandate to pass the biggest tax increase since 1968 and the biggest domestic spending bill ever. Yet they also claim they’re helpless to raise the federal debt ceiling without Republican votes.
It’s a preposterous position, albeit of the sort this Administration often tries to sell. Such as: The soaring number of illegal border crossings in Texas is merely “seasonal,” the Afghanistan withdrawal was a success, and the cost of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill is “zero.”
Yet the White House is sticking to the line that the minority party is at fault for the majority party’s failure to raise the limit. The press-office wizards rolled out President Biden on Monday to portray the GOP’s reluctance not to cooperate as “so reckless and dangerous,” along with the usual parade of potential horribles: a credit downgrade, a run on the dollar, and a potential default on U.S. securities….But no one is preventing Democrats from doing their job. The Democrats can pass anything they want in the House. In the Senate they have 50 votes, plus the Vice President, to pass anything budget related through reconciliation. The GOP can’t filibuster such a budget bill—a fact Democrats are counting on to pass their multi-trillion-dollar tax and spending binge. The parliamentarian has already said that Democrats can use reconciliation to raise the debt limit, so why won’t they do it? As it happens, Mr. Biden gave that game away when he was asked Monday why Democrats aren’t using reconciliation.”
The Journal goes on to explain that Biden’s blocking reconciliation because it would force Democrats to go on record about a number of other, unrelated votes that would put Democrats on record taking unpopular positions.
The good news is that changing filibuster rules would require support from all Senate Democrats, and Democratic Sen. Joe “Manchin’s office confirmed for [POLITICO] Playbook, however, that the senator hasn’t changed his opposition to a filibuster carveout. Even if he did, Democrats would still have to deal with Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.), who’s broadly against getting rid of the filibuster because she thinks it would lead to wild swings in policy as control of Congress moves between parties.”
Cheers to Manchin and Sinema assuming the roles of grownups in the room. Here’s hoping they hold the line.