Biden Says Changing the Filibuster to Raise the Debt Ceiling Is a 'Real Possibility'


President Joe Biden says there is a “possibility” that Senate Democrats could make a change to the filibuster rules to let them raise the debt ceiling without going through the budget reconciliation process.

As Republicans signal that they will not provide the necessary votes for Democrats to pass a debt ceiling increase, Biden said on Tuesday that it is a “real possibility” that Senate Democrats could make a change to the filibuster rules to raise the limit to avoid a defaulting on the nation’s debt.

The filibuster is a procedural hurdle used to delay or block legislation and means that most bills need at least 60 votes to pass the chamber. In the Senate, which is divided 50-50, Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to vote for legislation for it to pass.

Some Democrats have discussed making changes to the filibuster to pass an increase of the debt ceiling, the amount of money the U.S. can borrow to meet its existing obligations, and avoid defaulting on its debt which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says would yield “catastrophic” results.

During an appearance on CNBC on Tuesday, Yellen said, “I do regard Oct. 18 as a deadline. It would be catastrophic to not pay the government’s bills, for us to be in a position where we lacked the resources to pay the government’s bills.”

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“I fully expect it would cause a recession as well,” she added.

However, Senate Republicans have signaled that they will not provide at least 10 votes to lift the debt ceiling. Instead, they are expected to filibuster a vote to do so.

They argue that Democrats should use a process known as budget reconciliation, which would let them advance certain legislation with just 51 votes, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

Republicans have said that they would not try to prolong the process if the Democrats decided to go the reconciliation route.

Should Democrats make a change to the filibuster?

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said, “I don’t see any need to prolong this. I think the important thing is, they take the vote.”

And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he would not want to prolong the process, but added, “I’m not going to be a complete asshole about it. But I’m going to make them take some tough votes.”

In order to make changes to the filibuster, all 50 Democrats would have to vote for it. However, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told CNN’s Manu Raju, “Forget the filibuster … We can prevent default, we really can prevent it. And there’s a way to do that, and there’s a couple other tools we have.”

“Takes a little bit of time, it’s gonna be a little bit of pain, long vote-a-ramas,” he added in reference to budget reconciliation.

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