President Joe Biden said Tuesday there was a “real possibility” that Senate Democrats would move to change the body’s filibuster rules in order to overcome Republicans’ refusal to raise the debt ceiling and stave off a potential economic collapse if the federal government doesn’t pay its bills.
When asked at the White House if the party was considering the “nuclear option,” as a change in the filibuster has been called, Biden said it was in the cards. “I think that’s a real possibility.”
The comments are a notable shift for the president, who has resisted changing the filibuster for months, saying earlier this year that such a shift could throw the “entire Congress into chaos.”
Congress has less time to pass the debt limit, which is the legal limit of how much federal government can borrow in order to pay its bills. GOP leaders are preventing Democratic efforts to increase the debt ceiling. Nearly 100 times the debt ceiling was raised in the past century. This includes three times by President Donald Trump. It is currently at $28.4 Trillion.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell won’t allow Republicans to vote against the debt ceiling being lifted. He instead ridiculed Democrats and asked them to go through a reconciliation process. This process is complex and can take a long time. It is likely to be longer than the amount of money left for the government.
“We do not have the luxury of using a drawn-out, convoluted and risky process,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday. “There’s still time for 10 Republicans to join us, no matter what some of the extremists on the hard right think.”
Schumer added: “The best way to get this done is for Republicans to just get out of the way.”
McConnell has refused to budge, saying that although he supports raising the ceiling, it’s up to Democrats to do so without the GOP.
Schumer and other top Democrats are exasperated, and while the majority leader hasn’t said the party will move to shift the filibuster rules, the idea is gaining steam.
Democrats have just 50 votes in the Senate, and any effort to change the filibuster would require the entire bloc’s support, including moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Kyrsten Silena (D-Ariz.). Each have refused support for a crucial piece of Biden legislation, the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package.