Sen. Angus King Suggests He'd Back Killing Filibuster to Get Voting Rights Passed

Independent Maine Senator Angus King said Sunday that he will consider using the so-called "nuclear option" to bypass the Senate's filibuster rules in order to pass a pending voting rights bill.

Appearing on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, King responded to moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's op-ed in which he wrote he would not support the For the People Act. King said Manchin is playing politics with Americans' voting rights and that despite the future risk of doing so, he is "reluctantly" open to eliminating the filibuster in order to get the legislation passed. The Maine senator said the nearly 1,000 pages of the voting rights bill still have much left to be negotiated.

"But just to get a 'yes' or 'no,' it sounds like you are not in a place where you are ready to get rid of the filibuster yet," State of the Union host Jake Tapper asked King.

Sen. Angus King says he is "reluctant" to get rid of the filibuster, adding that, "If it comes down to voting rights and the rights of Americans to go to the polls and select their leaders versus the filibuster, I'll choose democracy" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/joRmlSlEpb

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 6, 2021

"Not in general. I'm very reluctant about it," King replied. "[But] if it comes down to voting rights and the rights of Americans to go to the polls and select their leaders versus the filibuster, I'll choose democracy."

Manchin is a longtime supporter of the filibuster, but King now joins the growing list of Democrats who say they back killing the requirement of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster in order to ease the passage of legislation such as the voting rights bill.

Should Democrats come to an agreement on overhauling the filibuster rules, only a 51-vote majority would be needed to advance the bill.

King reiterated his belief in working together with Senate Republicans and Democrats through committees.

"We have been negotiating in good faith for about two months on this competitiveness bill, the competitiveness and innovation bill that's designed to help us compete with China," he told Tapper. "That's been entirely bipartisan. It stalled right before we left town last week. Hopefully, we're going to be able to finalize that. That's a good example of how we can work together.

"But I was thinking about that bill. If the bill had had Joe Biden's name on it, we wouldn't even be talking about it, I don't think. I mean, it's—that's sort of where we have gotten this. This bill bubbled up. It started with Chuck Schumer and Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, in the Senate gym, and it came up spontaneously, which is the way things are supposed to work, through committees, through regular order, with a lot of amendments," the independent senator continued.

Newsweek reached out to King's Maine Senate offices for any additional remarks about the filibuster and the voting rights legislation.

Angus King
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: Sen. Angus King (I-ME) speaks to a reporter outside the U.S. Capitol on June 01, 2021 in Washington, DC.He said Sunday that he will consider using the so-called "nuclear option" to bypass the Senate's filibuster rules in order to pass a pending voting rights bill. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images