Centrist West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin doubled down on his vow to preserve the filibuster on Wednesday, potentially threatening large swaths of President Joe Biden’s agenda and sweeping voting rights bills pushed by Democrats for years, The Washington Post reports.
“There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “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.”
Manchin argued that the filibuster was important to prevent chaos and ensure bipartisanship, though there’s been virtually none of it in the Senate for years as filibuster use has skyrocketed.
“We will not solve our nation’s problems in one Congress if we seek only partisan solutions,” he wrote. “Instead of fixating on eliminating the filibuster or shortcutting the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it is time we do our jobs.”
Manchin threatens voting rights bills:
Manchin’s decision makes it virtually impossible for Democrats to pass the For The People Act and Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would expand voting rights protections amid a Republican push to restrict voting across the country. A growing number of Democrats have called to at least make an exception in the filibuster for voting rights bills, the same way both parties limited the filibuster’s use in presidential nominations.
Manchin wrote that he opposed those previous efforts as well and argue that there is “bipartisan support for voting reform and many of the initiatives outlined in the For the People Act” even though Republicans have sought to widely criticize it as a Democratic takeover of elections.
“Our ultimate goal should be to restore bipartisan faith in our voting process by assuring all Americans that their votes will be counted, secured and protected. Efforts to expand voting hours and access, improve our election security and increase transparency in campaign finance and advertisement rules should and do have broad, bipartisan support and would quickly address the needs facing Americans today,” he wrote, ignoring the hundreds of restrictions introduced by Republican state lawmakers to restrict voting access and pushback from Republicans on campaign finance reform.
Manchin may also torpedo budget reconciliation:
Democrats scored a minor win this week when the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the party may be able to pass two more bills through the budget reconciliation process, which they already used to pass the coronavirus relief bill with a simple majority.
But Manchin suggested he could torpedo those efforts as well.
“I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate,” he wrote. “How is that good for the future of this nation? Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues. Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats.”