President Joe Biden gave a shaky press conference yesterday. There is no better example than his statements on the filibuster. He flat out contradicted himself, admitted Senate Democrats behaved badly, and was confused about history.
Let’s start with which party abused the filibuster. President Biden stated:
You know, with regard to the filibuster, I believe we should go back to a position on the filibuster that existed just when I came to the United States Senate 120 years ago. And that is that — it used to be required for the filibuster — and I had a card on this; I was going to give you the statistics, but you probably know them — that it used to be that, that from between 1917 to 1971 — the filibuster existed — there was a total of 58 motions to break a filibuster that whole time. Last year alone, there were five times that many. So it’s being abused in a gigantic way.
We assume he was joking about 120 years. But on the “serious part” of the statement he does have a point that his fellow Democrats used the filibuster a record amount last year.
Technically that number includes Cloture votes. As Heritage Scholar Tom Jipping explains:
Filibuster rate = % of votes to end debate that fail. In the last four years, lowest since Senate adopted its debate rule in 1917. The filibuster rate was nearly three times HIGHER when Sen Joe Biden defended the filibuster in 2005. Here's his speech: https://t.co/UfjePwfwvN— Thomas Jipping (@TomJipping) March 26, 2021
When a high % of cloture votes pass, it probably means most were unnecessary and taken to obstruct. From adoption of the cloture rule through 2016, an avg. of 24% of cloture votes passed. During 2017-20, the average was 92%. Guess which party forced those unnecessary votes?— Thomas Jipping (@TomJipping) March 25, 2021
President Biden also went on about how he thought a filibuster used to work:
And, for example, it used to be you had to stand there and talk and talk and talk and talk until you collapsed. And guess what? People got tired of talking and tired of collapsing. Filibusters broke down, and we were able to break the filibuster, get a quorum, and vote.
Another Senator who served with Senator Biden and has been around the Senate awhile is Senator Chuck Grassley. Grassley pointed out that Biden was confusing Hollywood with the Senate:
2day Pres Biden again falsely stated when he came to Senate u had to talk until collapse to filibuster getting to final vote. Never the rule He’s confused w Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Been 60 votes since 1975, 2/3 before— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) March 26, 2021
A third point President Biden made on filibusters is that it is racist.
Q Regarding the filibuster: At John Lewis’s funeral, President Barack Obama said he believed the filibuster was a “relic” of the Jim Crow era. Do you agree?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
A video of one of the “racist” filibuster supporters, then Senator Obama in 2005:
When Republicans controlled the Senate in 2005, Obama said that without the filibuster, “the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.”— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) March 26, 2021
Now that Democrats are in power, it’s a “Jim Crow relic.”
Of course Biden said the same sort of thing in 2005:
Indeed, Biden in 2005 argued it was one of the “pillars of our American democracy” and that killing it would “eviscerate minority rights.” Moreover, he prayed “to God” that if Democrats ever took power back that they would not blow it up.
Is Biden confused, a hypocrite or a political opportunist? One thing is for sure, his current views on the filibuster are not really about racism. As Nick Arma wrote in an article entitled Biden's Argument Against the Filibuster Gets Eviscerated by...Biden, Obama and a Few Inconvenient Facts:
Of course, this is about power, not race. The Democrats will do anything, blow up any rule, do away with any Constitutional process if they can ensure their own power, no matter how much it shows their hypocrisy.