Senate Democrats have voiced concern that without changes to the filibuster, the party will fail to enact meaningful legislation before the midterm elections, which could lead to ''Armageddon,'' CBS News reports.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., one of the main forces behind the push to change the filibuster, told CBS, "It will be 'Armageddon,'" when asked if Democrats will suffer if filibuster reform fails.
"Our base will be so dispirited, so angry, so disaffected,'' he added. ''They will stay home. And I understand why they will stay home if we failed them."
The filibuster is a tactic in the U.S. Senate that allows for endless debate to stall legislation by keeping the chamber from voting on it. It was first codified in Senate rules in 1917. Prior to that, the Senate had no rules to end debate, and the chamber installed a 67-vote threshold to create one. That was reduced to 60 in 1975.
Merkley introduced the legislation that would require senators to physically stand and speak in order to hold up legislation, a reversal from the current rules which allow senators to phone-in.
President Joe Biden told ABC News in a recent interview that he supported changing the filibuster, noting that the proposal reminded him of his early days in the Senate.
''I don't think that you have to eliminate the filibuster, you have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days," Biden said. "You had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking.''
When asked if he supports ''bringing back the talking filibuster,'' Biden answered ''I am. That’s what it was supposed to be.''
He added, "It's getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.''
Just last Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden would prefer ''not to make changes'' to the filibuster, but did note that he was ''open to hearing'' suggestions about the issue.
Markley added to CBS that Democrat voters are getting frustrated seeing Republicans make changes to the filibuster to get U.S. Supreme Court nominees confirmed but Democrats remain reluctant to change rules themselves.
"Our base is going, 'What a bunch of idiots you are,'" Merkley said. "You campaigned on this stuff and you're going to let the Republicans have a simple majority pathway while you just say, 'Well, I'm sorry but we can't get anything done because [Kentucky Republican Senate Minority Leader] McConnell's blocking us?' They expect us to have the same guts to get things done that the Republicans had to get their agenda done."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., one of the top-ranking Democrats in the Senate, noted that "If it weren't for reconciliation, we would have little to show for this session other than nominations.''
Adam Jentleson, an ex-aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, noted that Biden’s comments this week were ''very encouraging'' for the movement to reform the filibuster.
"It's not everything we want but it's very encouraging," he told CBS News. "Not just the endorsement of a talking filibuster, but also his reflection of the use of the filibuster since his time in the Senate, which shows he's thinking very seriously about this."
Jentleson added, "It's March of 2021 and you've got President Biden and Joe Manchin endorsing the concept of reform. Even if in very mild terms, that alone is light-years ahead of where I thought we would be at this point. This is the Senate equivalent of a very rapid shift."
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