President Biden said he would explore 'doing away' with the filibuster in order to enact voting rights legislation, but he can't do so right now because he would lose three votes on his economic program.
'I also think we're going to have to move to the point where we fundamentally alter the filibuster,' Biden said.
He said that he would 'lose at least 3 votes' if he brought up right now the larger conversation of eliminating the 60-vote threshold needed for most legislation in the Senate in favor of a simple majority.
Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, both Democrats, have spoken out against eliminating the filibuster. It's unclear who Biden was talking to when he mentioned the "third vote."
'If in fact I get myself into, at this moment, the debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes right now to get what I have to get done on the economic side of the equation, the foreign policy side.'
'That remains to be seen exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally altering it, whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up,' said Biden. He added that Democrats might have to reform the filibuster on voting rights.
'There are certain things that are just sacred rights. One is the sacred obligation that we never are going to renege on a debt. Only nation in the world we have never, ever, reneged on a single debt.'
As he called for reform, Biden approvingly recalled the way the filibuster used to be implemented, where a lawmaker would have to stand on the floor and speak for hours on end. Now that no floor speech is required, the filibuster is used far more frequently.
'You had to stand on the floor and exhaust everything you had and when you gave up the floor and someone else sought the floor, they had to talk until they finished. You're only allowed to do it a second time. After that, it's over. You vote.'
Republican senators filibustered a major voting bill on Wednesday, blocking Democrats' plans to allow same-day voter registration and to make Election Day a holiday.