OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Joe Biden and his administration are getting hit with more bad news after another senator who caucuses with the Democrats has spoken of his reluctance for getting rid of the filibuster.
Independent Maine Sen. Angus King, who votes with the Democrats, told Jake Tapper on Sunday that he is ‘reluctant” to end the filibuster.
“Just to get a yes or no, it sounds like you are not in a place where you are ready to get rid of the filibuster yet,” Tapper asked the senator on his show “State of the Union.”
“Not in general. I’m very reluctant about it,” he said. “But if it comes down to voting rights and the rights of Americans to go to the — go to the polls and select their leaders vs. the filibuster, I will choose democracy.”
This came after West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin said, in an op-ed, that he will not end the filibuster under any circumstances.
Tapper previously asked him about his stated position on the filibuster depending on if Republicans are acting in good faith or simply obstructing.
“There’s a lot of legislation that has been stalled in the 50/50 Senate. In March, you wrote that the fate of the filibuster and whether or not the Senate will continue to require 60 votes to proceed to debate, the fate of it depends on whether or not you believe Republicans negotiate in good faith or are just obstructionists,” Tapper said.
“What are they doing today? Are they negotiating in good faith? Do you support eliminating the filibuster?” he said.
“Well, it’s kind of schizophrenic,” the senator said.
“We have been negotiating in good faith for about two months on this competitiveness bill, the competitiveness and innovation bill that’s designed to help us compete with China. That’s been entirely bipartisan. It of stalled right before we left town last week. Hopefully, we’re going to be able to finalize that. That’s a good example of how we can work together.
“But I was thinking about that bill. If the bill had had Joe Biden’s name on it, we wouldn’t even be talking about it, I don’t think. I mean, it’s — that’s sort of where we have gotten this. This bill bubbled up. It started with Chuck Schumer and Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, in the Senate gym, and it came up spontaneously, which is the way things are supposed to work, through committees, through regular order, with a lot of amendments.
“But then, on other areas, it’s been — as you say, it’s been pretty well stalled. I think the infrastructure bill is a good test, because, listen, there’s not a lot of policy there. This is just numbers,” he said.
The bad news for Biden and the Democrats did not end with his reluctance to end the filibuster. The senator also said that he does not support the voting rights bill, known as the For The People act, as written.
“I think there are things that can be modified. And Chuck Schumer knows that and Amy Klobuchar. I have said that all along,” he said.
“I — it’s a 800- or 900- or 1,000-page bill. There are clearly some things I think need to be negotiated. And I think Joe Manchin realizes that.
“The — but the guts of it, Jake, is voting rights. It has a lot of other pieces. It has — for example, it has public financing of elections. It has a lot of other pieces in it. But the important part for me is protecting voting rights. And I think that’s becoming more urgent by the day, based upon what’s going on around in the states,” the senator said.
“And, Jake, there’s an important point here. There are two things going on with voting rights. One is getting a lot of publicity, the other not so much. The publicity is about things like limiting absentee ballots and the early voting and all of those kinds of things.
“The other piece, though, Jake, that isn’t being talked about is, a lot of states are considering changes that the legislature could essentially overturn the results of an election in their state. Remember, Raffensperger stood up in Georgia and said, no, we have certified these elections, the governor certified them.
“We’re worried that — or I’m worried that they’re going to turn that over and say, OK, a Republican legislature can say, we think there was fraud in Fulton County, and, therefore, we’re going to certify a different set of electors,” he said. “That’s really dangerous.”