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President Biden participates in a CNN town hall at Baltimore Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland on Oct. 21, 2021. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday at a CNN town hall he'd be willing to consider doing away with the filibuster in the Senate in a bid to protect voting rights and "and maybe more."

Why it matters: With an evenly split Senate, legislation requires at least 10 Republican votes making it highly unlikely any new voting rights bill would pass with the filibuster in tact.

  • Republicans have filibustered voting rights legislation three times in the current Congress.
  • Advocates have expressed frustration with moderates' — especially Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) — reluctance to end the filibuster as GOP-led state lawmakers institute sweeping voting restrictions in the aftermath of the 2020 election that will largely target communities of color.
  • Republicans have said they will not help Democrats raise the debt ceiling after Dec. 3, which could lead the U.S. to default.

What he's saying: "I think we're going to have to move to the point where we fundamentally alter the filibuster," Biden said, emphasizing the importance of voting rights.

  • "If I get myself into at this moment the debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes right now to get what I have to get done on the economic side of the equation, foreign policy side of the equation," he noted.
  • "The idea that, for example, my Republican friends say that we're going to default on the national debt because they're going to filibuster that and we need ten Republicans to support us is the most bizarre thing," he said.
  • "It remains to be seen exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally altering it, whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up," Biden said.

Flashback: In July Biden said ending the filibuster would "throw the entire Congress into chaos” and that “nothing at all will get done.”

Go deeper

Rep. Jeffries demands filibuster reform to pass voting rights bill

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told “Axios on HBO" that the “integrity of our democracy” is at stake without federal voting rights legislation, and the Senate must seriously consider filibuster reform if it can’t get 60 votes to pass it next year.

What they’re saying: “It's an open question as to whether we can get to 60 votes in the Senate on voting. And if we can't, then the Senate is going to have to make some decisions as it relates to filibuster reform,”Jeffries said.

"Midnight is approaching” to pass voting rights protections

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act. But time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching," according to more than 150 top scholars of U.S. democracy in a new push to temporarily suspend the Senate filibuster and pass voting rights protections on a simple majority vote.

Driving the news: Their unified front comes amid a short break in the legislative action on Capitol Hill, with the start of the Thanksgiving recess and after the House passage of President Biden's "Build Back Better" social spending package.

Updated Nov 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Mapped: Voting rights for 2022

Expand chart
Data: Brennan Center for Justice; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Your ability to vote in 2022 will largely depend on where you live, as lawmakers in 25 states have made it easier for people to vote while those in at least 19 states have made it more difficult, per the Brennan Center for Justice.

Why it matters: The new laws are likely to make the disparities between states even greater. The states where voting is already difficult have been the ones to enact stricter laws; those where it is easier to vote have expanded access to the ballot box.