OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin isn’t onboard with the rest of his party’s call to eliminate the filibuster – not even as a one-time exception to the longstanding rule. Although the rule is complicated, it effectively prevents a simple majority of senators from passing legislation without the approval of their counterparts.
Efforts to eliminate the filibuster rule come following the Republicans’ refusal to play ball with the Democrats on passing their voting rights bill, and stalling on the more recent bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is key to the Biden agenda.
Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union, Manchin said that he “can’t imagine” supporting making a single exception to the rule to pass the Democrats’ wide-ranging elections and campaign finance reform bill. The bill remains a top priority for both the Biden administration and the Democrats.
“I can’t imagine a carve-out,” the moderate Democratic senator said on “State of the Union” when asked if he could back such an effort, Fox News reported.
As detailed by Fox News, the filibuster – a longstanding tradition – requires 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to advance a bill, and effectively allows a minority party to block legislation, or prevent simple majorities from passing bills as they see fit. The Senate currently sits at an even 50/50 split between both the Republicans and Democrats, with the Democrats having a thin majority through the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, who rules as president of the Senate.
The Democrats have tried, and failed to push their bills through due to their failure to obtain the 60 votes needed to quash the filibuster. As the publication notes, the Democrats do not even have a simple majority due to the fact that both Manchin and Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are opposed to the party’s efforts to eliminate the filibuster rule.
In June, Senate Republicans successfully employed the rule to block the Democrats’ voting rights bill, which Republicans argue would impair election integrity. Democrats are demanding reforms in response to moves by 18 Republican-controlled legislatures to pass laws on election integrity. Democrats argue that the Republicans are trying to impede minorities from casting votes – effectively a voter suppression tool. Though the claim is highly contentious, what remains true is that Democrats have been unable to prevent the 18 states from passing election integrity laws.
Speaking to CNN, Manchin explained his opposition to the possibility of a filibuster exemption, and pointed to previous carve-outs.
“I was here in 2013 when it was called a carve-out, we’re just going to do the cabinet for the President, and then it went into we’re going to do the judges who are lifetime appointments for circuit and district,” he said.
“They really want to do Supreme Court, but they didn’t at that time the Democrats were in control. 2017, (Senate GOP leader) Mitch McConnell’s in control, comes right back in and guess what, that carve out worked to really carve us up pretty bad. Then you got the Supreme Court, okay, so there’s no stopping it,” Manchin stated.
In addition to Manchin’s appearance, CNN’s State of the Union also featured New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who essentially threatened moderate Senate Democrats on the infrastructure deal, stating that if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill without Republican support, the House “will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in.”
As detailed by the Conservative Brief, the progressive claimed that “a very large amount of the Progressive Caucus” in the House would not vote for the bipartisan infrastructure package if the more massive reconciliation bill did not pass.