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Biden open to altering Senate filibuster

China Daily | Updated: 2021-10-23 09:05

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on infrastructure legislation at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, US, Oct 20, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

BALTIMORE-President Joe Biden on Thursday backed away from pledged tax increases to fund planned infrastructure and social spending in the United States, and said he was open to reforming Senate voting rights by "fundamentally altering" its filibuster custom.

In a wide-ranging CNN town hall in Baltimore, Biden said he was close to striking a deal to pass major spending measures after weeks of intraparty bickering among his fellow Democrats.

However, he said that raising corporate tax rates, one of his most oft-cited promises, was unlikely to be part of the legislation. A separate minimum corporate tax proposal could fund social programs that are at the heart of his domestic agenda.

When asked about voting rights, Biden expressed support for changing the Senate filibuster tradition, which requires 60 of 100 senators to agree on most legislation. That hurdle has left the Democratic Party powerless on key social issues given their narrow majority. It remains to be seen whether Biden plans to do away with the filibuster all together.

Taxes were a central issue in Biden's social spending plan, which is the subject of pitched debate on Capitol Hill and in the White House as negotiators look for the sweet spot between progressives wanting an array of new programs and moderates worried about the cost.

Corporate taxes

The tax compromise could help sell the plan to Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has expressed concern about Biden's plan to raise corporate taxes after the Trump administration slashed them from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2017.

Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin, both moderate Democrats, have been pushing for a smaller package and have opposed some elements of the bill.

Biden said negotiations now center around four or five issues. He later said a clean energy performance plan has not been dropped, adding that Sinema is "very supportive" of his environmental agenda.

He struck a confident note on his $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal and a separate social spending plan expected to cost under $2 trillion.

When asked whether Democrats were close to a deal, Biden said: "I think so. ... It's all about compromise. Compromise has become a dirty word, but bipartisanship and compromise still has to be possible."

When asked whether he would consider "fundamentally altering" the filibuster to ensure voting rights reform is passed, Biden said: "And maybe more."

Biden spent 36 years in the Senate and had previously said he opposed changes to the filibuster tradition. But earlier this month, he said he was open to a one-time change when faced with the risk of the federal government defaulting on its debt.

Agencies - Xinhua

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