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Biden: “No Democracy Has Survived Needing A Super-Majority”

Joe Biden used a Florida fundraiser to talk straight about structural dysfunction in the US Senate.

“As long as I have served … I’ve never seen, as my uncle once said, the constitution stood on its head as they’ve done. This is the first time every single solitary decisions has required 60 senators,” Biden said. “No democracy has survived needing a supermajority.”

Despite that dire warning, Biden said he’s “optimistic” the country will appreciate the administration’s accomplishments: “The American people are very smart, and we’ll demonstrate by November that the project is working.”

My fear here is that Biden’s solution to this would be to ask his former Republican colleagues really, really nicely to stop with all the filibustering and delay. That would be particularly disappointing since Biden, as the nominal President of the Senate, would be in a position to change Senate rules by ruling in favor of the nuclear option, or overruling the Parliamentarian in a reconciliation process, or accepting new organizational rules of the chamber in the next Congress. Of course, even the Bush Administration couldn’t pull any of that off, so I don’t see this one making such an effort.

Nevertheless, it’s good to see powerful politicians thinking seriously about how their agenda is beholden to antiquated rules. That’s a first step to getting those rules altered.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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