Sens. Manchin and Sinema Reiterate Their Support for the Filibuster

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Posted: Apr 07, 2021 9:30 PM
Sens. Manchin and Sinema Reiterate Their Support for the Filibuster

Source: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

While the fate of the filibuster continues to hang in the balance, fortunately two moderate Democrats, Sens. Kyrtsen Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia continue to calm our fears, so long as they can be believed. Earlier tonight, the Washington Post published an op-ed, "Joe Manchin: I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster." 

In what will hopefully wipe any crippling fear felt by those of us who worry about the fate of the filibuster, and likewise crushingly disappoint those who dared to hope otherwise, Sen. Manchin writes this, three paragraphs in:

The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government. That is why I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.

He also goes on to warn that:

Working legislation through regular order in the Senate prevents drastic swings in federal policymaking. Voting rights reforms, instituting health-care protections and changes to the federal tax code and business regulations take time to implement on the state and local levels. If the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping, partisan legislation that changes the direction of our nation every time there is a change in political control. The consequences will be profound — our nation may never see stable governing again.

Sen. Manchin may be a bit too idealistic, especially in writing "Taking bipartisan action on voting reform would go a long way in restoring the American people’s faith in Congress and our ability to deliver results for them," when it comes to that disastrous HR 1, the "For the People Act." We'll take what we can get from the Democrat though. In closing he writes "We will not solve our nation’s problems in one Congress if we seek only partisan solutions. Instead of fixating on eliminating the filibuster or shortcutting the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it is time we do our jobs."

Yesterday, Eliza Collins with the Wall Street Journal reported that "Kyrsten Sinema Defends Filibuster as Pressure Mounts From Progressives." Collins considers Sen. Sinema to be an even safer bet:

The Arizona lawmaker is one of just two Democratic senators who have publicly said they would block the party from eliminating the 60-vote requirement to advance most legislation, even as pressure builds from party activists eager to advance their agenda.

House Democrats have passed bills on voting rights, immigration and gun control, but all are expected to be blocked in the 50-50 Senate unless the rules are changed. Ms. Sinema said that is a problem with the senators, not the rules.

“When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules,” she said in an interview after two constituent events in Phoenix. “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”

While the other senator who has stated his opposition to ending the filibuster, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has signaled a willingness to change the process, Ms. Sinema hasn’t. In the interview, Ms. Sinema said she didn’t want to talk about hypotheticals, such as bringing back the “talking filibuster” where senators must be present and talking on the floor to block bills. That idea has been floated by President Biden and Mr. Manchin.

Hopefully tonight's op-ed from Sen. Manchin puts those rumors to rest. When it comes to President Joe Biden, it seems that with each passing day he comes closer to just directly saying that he's all for getting rid of it, though he's managed to dance around saying the words. Regardless of how directly he's willing to admit it or not, the president has still acknowledged it being a "relic of the Jim Crow era," though as I've pointed out, he may want to look at his own history of association, including and especially when it comes to his closeness with the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), a former KKK recruiter who was quite the fan of the filibuster.

If there's anything we should dearly hope and hold onto when it comes to the filibuster, it's that Sens. Manchin and Sinema reaffirming their support for keeping it doesn't come too late. Lisa Mascaro published no less than two pieces for AP on Tuesday about how the Senate can actually use the budget reconciliation to pass legislation with a simple majority. Katie reported on such an announcement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Monday night. 

Not surprisingly, this announcement has still led to confusion, prompting headlines like Caitlin Emma's "Schumer’s filibuster workaround spurs mass confusion" for Politico.