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Democracy is coming to the U.S. Senate?


Mitch McConnell’s panicky bluffing was one sign the filibuster is in trouble, and here’s the other shoe:

President Biden said Tuesday he wants the Senate to overhaul the filibuster, embracing for the first time a major change to the chamber’s rules that could make it easier for him to enact a far-reaching agenda that is blocked by Republicans.

“I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview to be aired Wednesday. “You had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking . . . so you’ve got to work for the filibuster.”

“So you’re for that reform? You’re for bringing back the talking filibuster?” Stephanopoulos said.

“I am. That’s what it was supposed to be,” Biden replied. “It’s almost getting to the point where democracy is having a hard time functioning.”

As I’ve said before, what matters is not so much the precise details of filibuster “reform” as Democrats signalling that if Republicans obstruct high-stakes legislation with consensus Democratic support they’ll get it through. Clearly, Senate Dems who actually want to govern are using the playbook that worked in 2013 — set up the Republicans to look unreasonable and persuade holdouts that they will have more power in a more functional legislative body. Will it work? I don’t know. But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags that time cannot decay.

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