President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he supports bringing back the "talking filibuster" but remains opposed to doing away with the Senate rule entirely, warning that doing so would "throw the entire Congress into chaos."
Biden made the comment during a CNN town hall at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, amid mounting pressure from Democrats to abolish the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for the Senate to proceed on most legislation.
"I've been saying for a long, long time, the abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming," Biden said in response to a question from an audience member on voting rights legislation. He noted that he has previously voiced support for a return to the talking filibuster, in which senators must actually speak out on the Senate floor in order to block legislation.
"I would go back to that, where you have to maintain the floor," Biden said. "You have to stand there and talk and hold the floor."
The filibuster allows a senator to block a bill by refusing to yield the floor unless at least 60 colleagues vote to end the debate and proceed to a vote. In recent years, the objecting senator has not had to actually speak for hours – instead, simply announcing an intent to filibuster is enough to block the bill.
In March, Biden, echoing some other Democrats, argued that the filibuster should return to its original form, making it harder to torpedo bills. Some Democrats, arguing that the filibuster is an outdated procedure that cripples progress in ways the Founding Fathers never intended, want to abolish it, but Biden did not go that far.
Biden has previously said he believes the filibuster is a Jim Crow-era relic. At the same time, he has argued that it must be protected.
"There's no reason to protect it other than you're going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done," Biden said Wednesday night.
On the issue of voting rights, a key part of his agenda, Biden said that while he wants to see a sweeping Democratic overhaul pass the Senate, "I want to make sure we bring along not just all the Democrats; we bring along Republicans who I know know better."
He suggested that the debate over the filibuster is a distraction from his goal of forging bipartisan agreement.
"What I want to do is, I'm trying to bring the country together," he said. "And I don't want the debate to only be about whether or not we have a filibuster or exceptions to the filibuster or going back to the way the filibuster had to be used before."
The Washington Post's Annie Linskey contributed to this report.