Sen. Joe Manchin (D. West Virginia), has made his conditions for backing reforms in the filibuster. They are so strict that such changes to the controversial Senate rule are unlikely to occur.
Just before President Joe Biden, Tuesday A speech was delivered in Atlanta, Georgia on voting rights, and the need for reform of the filibuster rulesManchin stated that he would not vote for any changes that fail to win bipartisan support.
“We need some good rule changes to make the place work better, but getting rid of the filibuster doesn’t make it work better,” Manchin said to CBS News Congressional Correspondent Scott MacFarlane.
Manchin also stated that a supermajority should be required in any vote to change the filibuster — a requirement that would essentially doom any chances at reforming the rule.
Rules should only change “with two-thirds of the people that are present [in the Senate],” Manchin said. “So it’s Democrats and Republicans changing the rules to make the place work better.”
Any changes to filibuster rules require support from at least 50 senators.
Democrats hope to pass legislation that will protect the right to vote in the United States. The fact that Republicans have blocked four voting rights bills in the past year is a testament to how obstinate they are..
Biden has expressed support for such changes, including eliminating the filibuster itself if it remains an impediment to protecting voters’ rights and access to the ballot.
Speaking in Atlanta, Biden said that “the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills.”
Lawmakers should be allowed to “debate” on voting rights bills, the president said, then “vote, let the majority prevail.”
“And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this,” Biden added.
Biden also voiced support for the return of a “talking filibuster,” which requires senators to stand and speak nonstop in order to block legislation. Filibuster votes currently allow 40 votes to block any piece of legislation.
Biden noted that the talking filibuster was common when he began his career in the Senate in 1970. “But that doesn’t happen today. Senators no longer even have to speak one word,” Biden noted in his speech. “The filibuster is not used by Republicans to bring the Senate together but to pull it further apart. The filibuster has been weaponized and abused.”
Manchin’s goals of bipartisanship have been criticized by other Democrats, who note that protecting the rights of voters shouldn’t require bipartisanship, especially if one side is opposed.
“The 15th Amendment was not a bipartisan vote,” This past weekend, Rep. James Clyburn (D. South Carolina), was observed. “It was a single-party vote that gave Black people the right to vote.”
Manchin was involved in negotiations to change the filibuster along with moderate Democrats in the Senate. So far, those negotiations have been difficult, sources have said, due in large part to the West Virginia senator’s changing attitudes from one day to the next.
“You think you’re just about there. You think you’ve got an agreement on most of the things and it’s settling in. And then you come back the next morning and you’re starting from scratch,” One insider familiar with the negotiations spoke out Axios.