Biden: Abuse of Filibuster Worst He's Seen

Vice President Joe Biden on "Face the Nation," Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010.
The Senate's frequent use of the filibuster, a procedural tool used to block legislative progress, represents a "fundamental shift" in Congress, Vice President Joe Biden said today on "Face the Nation."

The Republican minority in the Senate has used the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to bypass, to block significant bills like the Democrats' health care reform package.

"Most people would agree that the United States Senate has never acted as consistently as they have to require a supermajority, that is 60 votes, to get anything done," Biden said. "That's a fundamental shift. I was there for 36 years. I don't ever recall it being abused and used as much as it has now."

With only 59 votes in their caucus, Democrats now need the support of at least one Republican to move any bill forward.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid surprised his colleagues last week when he jettisoned a jobs package with some Republican support in favor of putting forward a leaner bill more strictly focused on job creation.

Even though it is unclear whether Reid's new bill will win enough votes to pass, Biden said today, "I think it is going somewhere."

"No one ever thought there would be one single job bill," Biden said. "We thought this spring it will be a series of initiatives to promote American workers, to provide access to good jobs, and to provide access to credit which a lot of small businesses are credit worthy are being strangled. So this is a process. It's beginning."