White House communications director Kate Bedingfield on Thursday brushed off concerns over Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reiterating his opposition to eliminating or weakening the filibuster in a Washington Post op-ed, as Democrats work to push their sweeping voting rights bill and other major legislation forward.
In his op-ed published Wednesday night, Manchin argued that the filibuster, a Senate procedure that requires 60 votes to pass legislation, is “a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government.”
Manchin, a moderate Democrat who plays a key role in the 50-50 Senate, also signaled that he opposes using budget reconciliation to pass Democratic legislation. Manchin indicated that he wants to follow regular order when it comes to considering big legislative priorities.
Asked to respond to Manchin’s vehement defenses of keeping the filibuster as is, Bedingfield denied that the West Virginia senator poses a threat to the President’s agenda. She asserted that senators raising their concerns is simply part of the process behind advancing legislation.
“Absolutely not, he remains a key partner,” Bedingfield said when asked whether Manchin’s comments were a blow to Biden. “Look, this is how the process works. Senators will come forward. They’ll raise their concerns, they’ll raise their issues.”
Bedinfield emphasized that Biden wants a “collaborative process” where Democrats and Republicans put their concerns on the table.
“I mean, what the President has said is that the only thing he finds unacceptable here is inaction,” Bedingfield said. “So he knows this is going to be a process where there are going to be compromise. There is going to be negotiation.”
Bedingfield reiterated that Manchin remains a key partner and that the White House is working on outreach to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, especially when it comes to Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
Manchin’s op-ed was published amid more Democrats expressing openness to reforming the Senate procedure.
On Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is known as a longtime defender of the filibuster, signaled that she would be open to a “carveout” to pass HR1 with a simple majority.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) office reported on Monday evening that Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough gave the green light on his gambit to circumvent the filibuster by “revising” a budget resolution, which gives Democrats more opportunities to pass legislation through reconciliation much like they did to pass the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan without Republican support.