Joe Biden Says Dems May Sidestep Senate Filibuster Rule, in New Clash With Joe Manchin

As a standoff over the debt ceiling continues, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Democrats may sidestep the Senate's filibuster rules to get quick approval in raising the debt limit.

The president has previously resisted rule changes over other issues but his comments come just days before the October 18 deadline issued by the Treasury Department of when it will run short of funds to handle the nation's debt and risk severe economic consequences. As the date approaches, Democrats are considering fast options.

"It's a real possibility," Biden told reporters outside the White House.

joe biden debt ceiling filibuster carve-out manchin
President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that there was "a real possibility" that Democratic senators could keep the filibuster, but include a carve-out blocking it from being used regarding the debt ceiling. Biden is shown here delivering remarks about the need for Congress to raise the debt limit in the State Dining Room at the White House on Monday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Removing the filibuster rule lowers the votes needed for passage from 60 to 50. In the event of a split Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris can break the tie.

The possibility is one of several being discussed by Democrats as they work to raise the debt ceiling without support from Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused a simple vote on the debt limit and wants the Democrats to take responsibility for their own policy agenda. The GOP has twice blocked bills that would suspend the debt ceiling.

Without bipartisan support, the process may take weeks.

Biden's comment on nixing the rule comes one day after Sen. Joe Manchin said his party should raise the debt ceiling without help from Republicans through the budget reconciliation process rather than a filibuster.

"The filibuster has nothing to do with the debt ceiling. Basically, we have other tools that we can use and if we have to use them we should use them," Manchin said.

He and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, both moderates, have been at odds with their party over the spending bill and its associated price tag. Both have expressed sentiments that they are opposed to getting rid of the filibuster.

In order for the rule to change, all Democrat senators must support it.

Manchin told reporters Monday that nothing should be ruled out by Democratic leadership when it comes to the debt ceiling because it simply cannot lapse.

"Forget the filibuster, OK? We can prevent default ... there's a way to do that. There's a couple other tools that we have that we can use. Takes a little bit of time. It's going to be a little bit of pain, long vote-a-ramas," Manchin told reporters, referring to the marathon voting sessions that occur as part of the Senate considering a bill under the reconciliation rules, The Hill reported.

When the subject of the filibuster came up again during a private Democratic Senate lunch session on Tuesday, Manchin didn't oppose or endorse the idea and instead said that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and McConnell need to work it out.

"We're not going to default," he told reporters when asked about the filibuster. "I just know that there's enough people here that will not let this country fall to default."

McConnell reiterated on Tuesday that Democrats should use the reconciliation process that would allow the party to raise the borrowing limit with a majority rather than the needed 60 votes.

However, Schumer said that the process is risky and time-consuming.

"The best way to get this done is for Republicans to just get out of the way," he said.