Biden defends filibuster months after slamming it as 'relic of the Jim Crow era'

President Biden said Wednesday the progressive push to eliminate the legislative filibuster would "throw the entire Congress into chaos," just months after he agreed with former President Barack Obama that the rule is a "relic of the Jim Crow era."

During a town hall in Cincinnati, Biden was asked by CNN’s Don Lemon whether protecting the filibuster was more important than protecting and expanding voting rights.

"No. It's not," the president answered, adding that he was confident Congress could pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and For the People Act without axing the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote threshold to end debate and move forward on legislation.

"But here's the deal," he continued. "What I also want to do, I want to make sure we bring along not just all the Democrats. We bring along Republicans who I know, know better.


"I'm trying to bring the country together," he added. "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."

Biden's comments come just four months after he said he agreed with Obama, his former boss, that the filibuster was "a relic of the Jim Crow era" and in desperate need of reform. The president repeated the claim when pressed by Lemon during Wednesday's event, but argued he'd rather work on passing his legislative agenda than give Republicans an excuse to focus on the filibuster.

"If it's a relic of Jim Crow, it's been used to fight against civil rights legislation historically, why protect it?" Lemon asked.

Biden responded, "There's no reason to protect it other than you're going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done. And there's a lot at stake. The most important one is the right to vote."

"But it goes beyond that," he added. "For example, wouldn't my friends on the other side love to have a debate about the filibuster instead of passing the Recovery Act?"


Demands among progressives to abolish the filibuster have escalated since June, when Senate Republicans blocked consideration of the For The People Act after Democrats failed to secure 60 votes. Biden said the legislation is a necessary check on election integrity bills in GOP-led states that he has likened to "Jim Crow in the 21st century."

Fox News' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this article.