President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that his Democrats might make an exception to the U.S. Senate filibuster rule to extend the government’s borrowing authority without Republican help, which could head off an economically crippling debt default.
As a stalemate between Republicans and Democrats showed no sign of abating, Biden said there was a “real possibility” that his party would bypass the long-standing supermajority voting requirement, for dealing with the debt limit.
That would allow Democrats, who hold a razor-thin Senate majority, to suspend the federal government’s $28.4 trillion borrowing cap without Republican votes.
Asked if Democrats would remove the filibuster solely to raise the debt limit, Biden said: “Oh I think that’s a real possibility.”
Many Democrats have argued that the Senate should dump the filibuster entirely, saying it prevents progress on climate change, voting rights and other priorities.
Centrist Democratic senators including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have said they are not willing to do so, leaving the party short of the votes they need to change the rule.
But Democrats now are considering dropping the filibuster just for dealing with the debt limit, several senators said. Manchin declined to comment when asked about that possibility on Tuesday prior to Biden’s statement.
Biden made the comment as the Democrats were due to try for a third time to suspend the debt ceiling on Wednesday, which Republicans are expected to block.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own using a more convoluted approach called reconciliation that would require no Republican votes.
“They have the time to do it. And the sooner they get about it, the better,” McConnell said at a news conference.