WASHINGTON — Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he won't support ending the Senate filibuster that has enabled the Republican minority to block key portions of President Joe Biden's agenda, further complicating Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's drive to pass voting rights and other measures.
"I'm not really ready to say 'Let's get rid of it altogether' because I think there are circumstances where it makes sense," King said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "So I prefer some alternatives to what the present rule is."
King is the third Senate Democrat to balk at ending the rule, which requires 60 votes to advance legislation or bring bills to a final vote. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona also have taken that stance. To alter the filibuster rule, it would take all 50 Senate Democrats to agree and Vice President Kamala Harris would have to take her place in the presiding officer's chair in the chamber to break a tie.
King, a centrist second-term senator, said he'd favor reforms that would place a bigger burden on senators who want to use the filibuster.
"I'd like to restore the Senate to what it was, where we actually had debates and people had to hold the floor," King said. "And so I think some kind of talking filibuster, perhaps a rule that instead of having to have 60 votes to pass something, you'd have to have 41 votes to stop it.
King said that would at least require the minority party "to show up."
"One of the problems now is they don't even have to show up, they don't have to speak, they don't have to do anything," he said. "It just sort of becomes an automatic supermajority requirement, which isn't in the Constitution, and the framers were diametrically opposed to that concept."