Biden’s Longtime Defense of Senate Rules Withers Under Partisan Rancor

by 24USATVJan. 12, 2022, 5 a.m. 16
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WASHINGTON — President Biden’s decision to call for changing the Senate’s rules to pass voting rights protections was a long time coming. Perhaps — in the view of his most disaffected supporters — too long.

A self-proclaimed institutionalist who spent more than three decades abiding by those rules as a senator, Mr. Biden repeatedly defended the often-arcane procedures of the Senate, even as Republicans used them to block his agenda and he came under increasing pressure from liberal activists in his party to rethink his position.

Those rules, he said with admiration more than a decade ago, were about “compromise and moderation,” a core part of his political identity. To support changing them would be to admit that the principles he so cherished had withered in a city now consumed by partisan rancor.

On Tuesday, he made that admission.

“The threat to our democracy is so great that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills,” he said in an impassioned speech in Atlanta on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University. “Debate them. Vote. Let the majority prevail. And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster.”

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