Manchin Opens Door To Changing Filibuster To Make It More ‘Painful’ For Minority

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV) chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, ask questions of Rep. Debra Haaland, (D-NM) President Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of th... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV) chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, ask questions of Rep. Debra Haaland, (D-NM) President Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of the Interior, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, at the U.S. Capitol on February 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Rep. Haaland's opposition to fracking and early endorsement of the Green New Deal has made her one of President Biden's more controversial cabinet nominees. (Photo by Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
March 7, 2021 12:02 p.m.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Sunday said that he stood by his opposition to eliminating the filibuster entirely — but he left the door open to reforming the procedural rule.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Manchin maintained that he won’t change his mind when it comes to his opposition against getting rid of the filibuster — but expressed that he is open to making it “a little bit more painful” to use.

“Make him stand there and talk,” Manchin said. “I’m willing to look at any way we can. But I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.”

Manchin seemed to be floating the idea of bringing back something like the “talking filibuster,” where a member of the minority would have to take the Senate floor and speak, Jimmy Stewart-style, in order to block a vote.

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Some Democratic activists encouraging a change to how the filibuster works have argued that centrist Democrats could pitch reforms to the filibuster as necessary to “save” it, rather than eliminating it. Manchin appeared to lean into that framing Sunday during a separate interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

“I’d make it harder to get rid of the filibuster,” Manchin said when asked about his proposed changes by Wallace.

“I’m supporting the filibuster,” he continued. “I’m going to continue to support the filibuster. I think it defines who we are as a Senate. I’ll make it harder to get rid of it, but it should be painful if you want to use it.”

Manchin’s openness to reforms on the Senate filibuster, which at the moment sets the bar for most legislation at 60 votes in the Senate, comes as a growing number of Senate Democrats call to eliminate the procedural rule entirely as a way to move President Biden’s agenda forward. Support from Manchin, who serves as a key vote in a 50-50 Senate, would likely be needed to kill or change the filibuster.

Manchin also told MSNBC that he’s open to using reconciliation on the condition that bipartisan negotiations fail in the future.

“I will change my mind if we need to go to a reconciliation to where we have to get something done once I know they have process into it,” Manchin said.

Manchin said that reconciliation won’t be on the table until his “Republican friends” are able to weigh in on the matter.

“And I’m hoping they’ll get involved to the point to where we have 10 of them that’ll work with 50 of us, or 15 of them that’ll work with 45 of us,” Manchin said.

Manchin’s latest remarks come a day after Senate Democrats used reconciliation to pass their $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill with a simple majority.

Manchin echoed the same sentiments from Meet The Press during the interview on “Fox News Sunday” as well.

Noting that the filibuster has been made “more comfortable” over the years, Manchin suggested that the filibuster should be “more painful” by harkening back to its original process by requiring that senators speak at length.

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