Joe Manchin Torpedoes For The People Act, Filibuster Reform

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-ish).

CNN reports, and if there’s anything anybody can legally do about it, now’s the time to show us your plan:

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday defended his decision to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill and reiterated his opposition to gutting the filibuster, declaring in the strongest terms yet that he is not willing to change Senate rules to help his party push through much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster,” Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, wrote in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette.

Manchin’s opposition to changing filibuster rules stands as a major roadblock to Biden’s legislative priorities, as current rules allow Republicans to hold up many of the progressive bills the administration supports, including infrastructure spending, federal voting legislation and climate change legislation.

Sen. John Hickenlooper plays the banjo in support of the For The People Act.

From Sen. Joe Manchin’s column in the Charleston Gazette, which Democrats coast to coast are either seething over or in denial of this Sunday morning:

Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support. Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?

The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.

With that in mind, some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.

With no margin to overcome Sen. Manchin’s dissent, the Democratic agenda in the U.S. Senate could now be effectively stalled. Manchin says the alternative to doing away with the filibuster will be “frustrating and slow,” and “will force compromises that are not always ideal.” The problem here is that Manchin assumes there will be any compromise from Republicans who now thanks to Joe Manchin have no incentive to do so. Their obstruction of Biden’s agenda, which is the sole political objective of Republicans between now and the 2022 midterms, has just been fully enabled.

As for coming out against the For The People Act beyond merely opposing ending the filibuster in order to pass it, Manchin says “voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.” But that’s exactly what Republicans are doing with their wave of vote suppression legislation being run by Republicans in state houses across the country. The For The People Act would put a stop to vote suppression in the name of Donald Trump’s “Big Lie,” which is the far greater offense than anything in the For The People Act to protect voting rights. Manchin is not just wrong, he’s wrong at the worst possible moment for American democracy.

In the meantime, the one thing we don’t want to see is misguided attacks on Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senators over Joe Manchin’s intransigence. Sen. Michael Bennet has been very strong in 2021 about not letting the arcane rules of the U.S. Senate forestall necessary legislation. Sen. John Hickenlooper is a major, if not perfect-pitched proponent of the For The People Act. There’s always a temptation to rage indiscriminately at our own when frustrating political news hits, but there’s just nothing to indicate today that either of Colorado’s Senators are part of the problem.

The best hope now is that when that fabled Republican “compromise” fails to manifest, perhaps Manchin will see reason. If Democrats want to achieve anything beyond throwing money at problems via the budget reconciliation process before the midterms, he’ll need to.

25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. 2Jung2Die says:

    A few rocks and hard places:

    – Some of the voting positions Manchin believes he has to take to stay in office admittedly suck.

    – However, the guy Manchin narrowly beat in his last Senate election, state AG Patrick Morrisey, recently signed West VA on to a lawsuit to overturn Biden's victory. That would not be an upgrade from Manchin, BTW.

    – Manchin beat Morrisey by about 3%, but there was a Libertarian in the race who took 4%.

    – Manchin beat a progressive D primary challenger in 2018 by about 40 points.

    No telling if there's a better D candidate who might have a chance in a primary, but the consequence of a D losing in the next general might be more profound than some folk want to acknowledge.

  2. kwtree says:

    Just a reality check, people.

    Hickenlooper wants to reform the filibuster, not eliminate it

    That was a cute banjo video on the FtP, Act,  and that was a cute photobomb of Bennett's interview; however, Hick is pretty much in sync with Manchin on the filibuster.

    Dems could continue to feed Manchin's ego by asking him to sign on to a "talking filibuster" reforn, which he'll posture on and ultimately wiggle out of; however, I think that going after Manchin's dono

    rs would be most likely to succeed.

    • Duke Cox says:

      I think you are right. 

      Manchin has established his position as the most influential senator in congress. I believe his allegiance to bi-partisanship and the filibuster are not because of the phony reasons he blabbers about.

      He is relevant only in a circumstance like this. If the Pubs lost a few more seats, or the Orange King lost a handful of loyalists, Joe would immediately become irrelevant.

      Joe isn't committed to doing the right thing. He is as purely political as the Minority Leader.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Manchin has been in elected office just shy of 40 years and produced three children, one of whom is the CEO of a pharmaceutical that oversaw the infamous EpiPen debacle.  What are the odds he can hold that seat next time around?  Maybe just do the right thing – and hope for an Ambassadorship or Cabinet appointment to cap off his career?  

        Would I trade filibuster reform for his seat next cycle under these conditions?  Probably.  It’s the “bird in hand” thing. I’m probably an outlier here but I’d be fine with just bringing back the talking filibuster is that’s what it takes to get some movement. Letting these clowns blather on for days on end wouldn’t be a bad thing. 

        It sickens me to think that any one of them could look a black American in the eye and pretend any of this is OK. 

        • JohnInDenver says:

          Manchin is 73 now, and is in office until the 2024 election.  In 2018, when his opponent, the WV Attorney General suggested he ought to resign from his Democratic Leadership position, he retorted:

          "I just don't give a shit. Don't care if I get elected, don't care if I get defeated, how about that?"

          I suspect that attitude will continue. 

          I'm hoping Schumer will bring the entire bill to the floor and get a roll call vote on it.  When blocked by filibuster, I hope the Democratic Conference will split the bill and put each article up for a vote — just to see if there is ANY election reform which can draw Republican support.

        • notaskinnycook says:

          I'm with you, Michael. I'm fine with real filibusters. It's this candy-ass "symbolic filibuster" I can't stand. If a Senator wants to block a bill, let them put their stamina where their mouth is. Let them stand in the well and talk, nonstop, without eating or drinking anything, and without leaning on the podium.  

  3. MichaelBowman says:

    Ugh.  I think I'll try to focus on productive kinds of things like side-dressing corn and watching a herd of cows build soil carbon.  That's better than a Manchin-anything, any day. 

    PS: damn you Cal Cunningham.

  4. Peromyscus says:

    But, Manchin DOES support the voting rights bill of last year, named after the late great John Lewis.  Which would reinstate some provisions of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.  Why not force Manchin to put his money where is mouth is?  Bring that bill up for a vote, and when Manchin sees how little GOP support there is for THAT, perhaps he’ll change his tune.  Or modify the current bill; take away the automatic mail-in-ballot provision and some other things that are on us lefties’ wish list.  

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Manchin’s right.  In the current environment, there are things we can do to protect voting and things that would be simply unacceptable to some states.  

  5. IndependentProgressive says:

    Democrats need to call Manchin's bluff.

    Where is Manchin's infrastructure bill that will get ten Republican Senate votes?
    Where is Manchin's election-voter rights legislation that will get McConnell's vote?
    Where is Manchin's 1/6 Commission proposal that will beat the Republican filibuster?

    Manchin apparently likes to pontificate as principled and bipartisan, but he doesn't want to do the hard work.

    So, Leader Schumer should put all these bills on the Senate floor and let it be seen by all that it is the Manchin-McConnell alliance that is stopping the rebuilding of the nation's (and West Virginia's) road, bridges, electrical grid, expansion of internet, etc. 

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Schumer says he will be bringing issues to the floor in June.

      Among the challenging items Schumer said they would consider were the Paycheck Fairness Act and LGBTQ equality legislation, potential gun safety legislation, and S. 1, the For the People Act, Democrats’ all-encompassing election and voting rights legislation.

      Sounds like the Jan. 6 Commission may also make a reappearance. 

      Slate's overview

      Schumer has organized the schedule so that his caucus will know by the end of the month which elements of the Democratic agenda that could be filibustered … will be filibustered. They’ll know where deals can be made, and where they cannot. And they’ll have to decide, as a caucus, if they’re willing to live with that or not.

    • kwtree says:

      Joe Manchin is a Kochsucker. The Koch Brothers, and various rightie groups operating under PACs, bundlers and front groups donate to him as their “token Democrat”. 
       

      But his next biggest donors are the DSCC and other Democratic groups. That’s who we should be pressuring….no more Act Blue donations while you prop up Manchin’s ego.

      Then write to them and explain why not.

      • Voyageur says:

        Be sure to tell them how a right wing Trump Republican would be sooooo much better.  Don't let logic interfere with your little Stalinist hate fest.

        • kwtree says:

          Manchin is a Trump Republican, in all but name. He voted with Trump 71% of the time, according to the Congressional Quarterly.

          But don’t let that interfere with your usual habit of spitting out insults instead of reasoned arguments.

           

          • Voyageur says:

            Actually, since Biden came to power, Manchin has voted with the GOP 54 percent, according to the Washington Post.  But why let a few facts get in the way of spewing hate?

            Manchin’s vote let Democrats organize the Senate and put your St. Bernie in as chair of the budget committee.  

            Those trillions in spending via reconciliation, wouldn’t have happened without him. 

            If your ilk had spent a tenth of the energy  to defeat Susan Collins as you did trying to defeat Mancin, we’d have 51 senators.

            But why let facts stop you from playing “Ride of the Valkyries ” on your kazoo?

            As for which of us prefers insults to reasoned argument, remind me who just referred to a moderate Democrat as a “Kochsucker.”

            A critique of pure reason, that.

            Whay, you got tired of rhyming with “brother trucker?”

            • Conserv. Head Banger says:

              If I may suggest for both of you, there is a good article on Yahoo News this morning, reprinted from the New York Times, regarding how Manchin survives as a Democrat in West Virginia.

              It's a worthwhile read. And, no, Manchin is not a Trump Republican in all but name. What he is is a throwback to the conservative, labor, New Deal, Democrats of the 20th century. He also represents his constituents, of which 69% are whites without a college degree. That's not fertile ground for the "Squad" and other far left progressives to be playing in.

            • kwtree says:

              We'll see if you're still as enamored of your man Manchin when he has personally wrecked the chances of any bill Democrats might offer because of bipartisanship his big donors.

              He's a Kochsucker because that's who some of his biggest donors are – and he is loyal to his masters. One of the only Dems who is.

              But hey….stand by your man – and see how that works out for you.

  6. jimmay says:

    I’ve been lurking here for at least a decade and a half. I respect most of the posters here opinions and always have. That said, most of you are very very wrong about Manchin. He isn’t proposing a different votings right legislation, because he knows there will never, ever be ten GQP Senators to sign off on any legislation which might hurt Republicans. This is him throwing down that he will not vote with us, period, unless a non-existent Republican margin joins him. He knows that will not happen.

    And if you think he will support literally anything else without this imaginary Republican support, you will grow to realize he is the new Zell Miller/Nighthorse Campbell/Joseph Lieberman and he will support literally nothing we put forward. 
     

    if the filibuster lives—and now it surely will—kiss the Biden presidency over. There will be no infrastructure, no voting rights, no accomplishments of note until we get annihilated in the midterms for not doing anything. 
     

    This is what we are looking dead in the face. Any suggestions of a long game are delusional fantasy. This is check mate for us, period.

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