Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made clear again this week that he is opposed to eliminating, or even weakening, the Senate’s 60-vote legislative filibuster, Common Dreams reported, which “could imperil his party’s hopes of passing popular legislation to protect voting rights, reform the inhumane U.S. immigration system, raise the federal minimum wage, and more.”
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Manchin described the archaic Senate rule as a “critical tool” to uphold “our democratic form of government” and declared that “there is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster.”
Manchin’s characterization of the 60-vote threshold runs directly counter to the argument from progressives—and a growing number of conservative Democrats—that the rule threatens democracy by giving the minority party inordinate power to tank bills supported by a majority of members of Congress and broad swaths of the U.S. public.
In a narrowly divided Senate, the existence of the filibuster in its current form also gives lone senators like Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—another strident defender of the filibuster—significant leverage to influence legislation.
In his op-ed, Manchin claimed that there is “bipartisan support” for many of the Democratic Party’s top-priority legislation, including investments in infrastructure and voting reform.
But Manchin did not specifically explain how Senate Democrats can convince at least 10 Republicans to support key legislation when they have vocally opposed even the most basic elements of President Joe Biden’s recently unveiled infrastructure package and dismissed the For the People Act as a “partisan power grab.”
“Joe Manchin represents a state that is 1/22 the population of California and 92% white yet he can singlehandedly block policies supported by 70-80% of Americans,” noted Ari Berman of Mother Jones. “This is why the U.S. Senate is so broken.”
While Manchin has refused to waver in his opposition to eliminating the filibuster, he recently voiced support for reviving the talking filibuster. Such a change would represent a dramatic break from the current no-show filibuster, which allows senators to obstruct legislation by sending an email.
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