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Did Biden think the filibuster was racist when he defended it in 2005?
During Friday's press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was confronted with President Joe Biden's apparent hypocrisy on the Senate filibuster. The previous day, Biden held a press conference and told reporters he agreed with former President Barack Obama's assertion that the legislative delay tactic was "a relic of the Jim Crow era," saying he would like the Senate to address abuses of the filibuster.
On Friday, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy followed up with Psaki on Biden's comments, noting that the president said something very different 16 years ago when he was serving in the United States Senate.
"The president said he thinks the filibuster is a legacy of the 'Jim Crow era.' Did he think that it was a legacy of the Jim Crow era in 2005 when he defended the filibuster and said, 'Altering Senate rules to help one political fight or another could become standard operating procedure, which in my view would be disastrous'?" Doocy asked.
"One of the things he talked about yesterday was the fact that between 1917 and 1971 the filibuster was used about 58 times. Last year alone it was used five times that many," Psaki responded, without mentioning that last year, the Democratic minority were the ones filibustering Republican bills.
"It is not being used for the intended purpose, it is being abused, and yes, there are scenarios as it relates to voting rights where it is oppressing, it is allowing for systematic racism in the country. That's the concern he was expressing," she added.
Biden is one of numerous Democrats who have reversed their long-standing positions in favor of preserving the legislative filibuster. As Doocy pointed out, Biden once warned in that 2005 speech that ending the filibuster "would eviscerate the Senate and turn it into the House of Representatives."
"It is not only a bad idea, it upsets the constitutional design and it disservices the country," Biden said at the time. "No longer would the Senate be that 'different kind of legislative body' that the Founders intended. No longer would the Senate be the 'saucer' to cool the passions of the immediate majority."
The president sang a different tune during Thursday's press conference, urging the Senate to revisit its rules to end "abuse" of the filibuster.
"Let's figure out how we can get this done and move in the direction of significantly changing the abuse of even the filibuster rule first," Biden said. "It's been abused from the time it came into being, by an extreme way in the last 20 years. Let's deal with the abuse first."
Biden, who was a United States senator from Delaware for nearly four decades, was serving in the Senate at the time he claims the filibuster began to be abused.
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