Biden opposes gutting filibuster despite tough path for some legislative priorities in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06: President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room following the passage of the American Rescue Plan in the U.S. Senate at the White House on March 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate passed the latest COVID-19 relief bill by 50 to 49 on a party-line vote, after an all-night session. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

(CNN) — President Joe Biden opposes ending the legislative filibuster despite a slim Democratic majority in the Senate, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said Sunday, as the administration faces hurdles in pushing the President’s priorities through Congress.

“His preference is not to end the filibuster. He wants to work with Republicans, to work with independents,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “He believes that, you know, we are stronger when we build a broad coalition of support.”

She also pointed to the administration’s success on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan that narrowly passed the Senate on Saturday, saying, “Look at what we’ve been able to do in the first six weeks that we’ve been in office with the filibuster in place.”

Bedingfield’s comments on Sunday reaffirmed Biden’s stance on the filibuster’s place in Senate debate. White House press secretary Jen Psaki had told reporters Friday that the President’s view on eliminating it had not changed and that he believes “there is a path and a way forward” for Democrats and Republicans to work together, even among the push from Democrats to gut the move.

Democrats have passed several key bills in the House, including voting rights and police reform, but getting legislation passed in the Senate has been an obstacle for Democrats where some bills require 60 votes to pass. The filibuster stands as a pressure point between the White House and liberal members of Congress who want Biden to encourage Vice President Kamala Harris, in her Senate tie-breaking role, both to overrule the parliamentarian and strike it down.

But moderate Democrats have adamantly said they oppose eliminating the filibuster, which often serves to empower the party in the minority and, advocates say, encourages bipartisan compromise.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a key moderate Democrat who is against ending the legislative filibuster, said Sunday the Senate has made the filibuster “more comfortable over the years,” and “maybe it has to be more painful.”

“I’d make it harder to get rid of the filibuster. I’m supporting the filibuster. I’m going to continue to support the filibuster,” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace when asked to clarify if he’d be open to making it harder to invoke the filibuster. “I think it defines who we are as a Senate. I’ll make it harder to get rid of it, but it should be painful if you want to use it.”

California Sen. Alex Padilla, who is in favor of gutting the filibuster, told CNN’s Abby Phillip on Sunday that although some of his Democratic colleagues oppose ending it, he thinks that if Republicans continue to obstruct legislation that patience will “wear thin.”

“There are a couple Democratic senators who have said they are not there yet. If we continue to see obstruction from our Republican colleagues as we saw through this Covid relief package, I think the patience is going to wear thin, even on moderate Democrats,” Padilla said.

Bedingfield told Tapper the White House is “hopeful” that the House will pass the Covid relief bill this week.

“If you’re a member of Congress and you’re looking at what’s the best thing that you can do quickly to help people in your district, I think it’s passing this bill. So we’re certainly hopeful that the House is going to move quickly,” Bedingfield added.

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