U.S. News

White House says Biden does not favor changes to Senate filibuster rules

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol dome is seen in Washington, U.S., December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden does not want to make changes to Senate filibuster rules amid efforts from some Democrats to scrap the legislative roadblock, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Psaki told reporters that Biden’s preference is not to change Senate rules which currently allow most measures to be effectively blocked without 60 votes in support.

Instead, Psaki said Biden’s preference is to continue to try and build bipartisan support on issues like infrastructure and immigration.

“His preference is not to make changes to the filibuster rules, and he believes, with the current structure, he can work with Democrats and Republicans to get business done,” she said at a press briefing.

Psaki’s remarks come after Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who has opposed efforts to eliminate the filibuster, said Sunday he would support making it more “painful” to pursue.

The White House had previously said Biden preferred not to eliminate the filibuster.

Democrats control 50 seats in the 100-seat U.S. Senate, giving them a razor-thin edge as Vice President Kamala Harris is able to break any tie votes.

However, under current rules, most legislation requires 60 votes in support, except for presidential nominations and some budget-related provisions.

Manchin said Sunday the procedural roadblock is a vital tool to ensure the minority party has a voice, but would support efforts to make it more difficult to use, such as by requiring senators to maintain a filibuster by constantly speaking from the Senate floor.

Reporting by Steve Holland; writing by Pete Schroeder; editing by Jonathan Oatis