Manchin Digs Heels In On Keeping Filibuster, No Exception For Voting Rights Bill

UNITED STATES - JULY 30: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., is seen in Russell Building on Thursday, July 30, 2020.(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WA) is seen in Russell Building in the Capitol on July 30, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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April 8, 2021 8:12 a.m.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Wednesday doubled down on his opposition to blowing up the filibuster or even weakening it, striking a blow to Democrats hoping he could be swayed to do so to advance their sweeping voting rights bill and other major legislation.

Manchin argued in a Washington Post op-ed that the filibuster, a Senate procedure that requires 60 votes for a bill and that Republicans use constantly to thwart the Democrats’ agenda, “is a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government.”

“That is why I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” he wrote. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”

The senator also signaled disapproval of using budget reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority, to pass Democratic legislation.

“I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate. How is that good for the future of this nation?” he asked. “Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues.

“Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats,” he added.

Manchin indicated that he wants to follow regular order when it comes to considering big legislative priorities.

“Voting rights reforms, instituting health-care protections and changes to the federal tax code and business regulations take time to implement on the state and local levels,” the senator wrote. “If the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping, partisan legislation that changes the direction of our nation every time there is a change in political control. The consequences will be profound — our nation may never see stable governing again.”

Manchin has said before that he does not support weakening the filibuster by lowering its 60-vote threshold.

However, the senator has also left the door open to reforming the procedure to make it “a little bit more painful,” such as changing it to a talking filibuster. His op-ed does not say whether his refusal to “weaken” the filibuster means he no longer potentially supports that reform. TPM has reached out to the senator’s office for clarification.

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