Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he remains opposed to removing the filibuster, amid growing pressure from liberals to erase it

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin on Capitol Hill.

  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin remains opposed to dumping the filibuster.
  • Some Democrats want the rule erased to overcome GOP opposition and enact sweeping reforms.
  • Manchin’s support is vital if Democrats are to reform or remove the rule.
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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said that he remains opposed to dumping the filibuster, a Senate rule that progressives want removed to overcome GOP opposition and enact sweeping reforms on gun control laws and voting rights.

The senator from West Virginia, a Republican-leaning state, has put a break on a push by some Democrats to use the party’s control of Congress to enact major reforms and sidestep GOP opposition and spoiling tactics.

“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the US government,” Manchin said in a statement Friday.

In remarks to The New York Times in an article published Saturday, Manchin defended the filibuster, saying that it had been designed to encourage bipartisan consensus and erasing it could destroy the Senate.

He also signaled opposition to suspending the rule for certain bills, as some Democrats have suggested.

“You’re either committed or not,” he remarked of the rule.

Manchin’s remarks have special weight because Democrats need the backing of all 50 of their senators to get bills passed or rules reformed, with the chamber currently evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaker.

The filibuster has been used as a spoiling tactic by Republicans and Democrats to block bills in recent years.

To overcome a filibuster and pass bills, 60 Senate votes are needed, meaning that Democrats will need to secure at least 10 Republicans’ support to overcome likely GOP filibusters on issues including gun control reform and voting rights.

The case for tighter federal gun control laws was highlighted by mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado, in the past fortnight, say advocates.

Democrats say that a federal voting rights bill is needed to counteract a push by state Republican legislatures to restrict voting access. No GOP senators have signaled support for reforming gun laws or expanding voting rights amid deep partisan divides on the issues.

But Manchin did say to the Times that he was open to reforming the filibuster and changing the rule to require senators to actually voice their opposition to a bill and speak out in the chamber. In theory, it’s a change that would make it harder to use the filibuster as a spoiling tactic and has been backed by President Joe Biden.

Current rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish, and on any topic they choose. In 2013 Sen. Ted Cruz spoke for 21 hours to stop the Affordable Care Act. During the filibuster, he read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr. Seuss.

Manchin said his main goal is to get Republicans and Democrats in the Senate talking again.

“America’s declining trust in the government and each other makes it harder to solve key problems. That trust will continue to diminish unless we, as members of Congress, transcend partisanship,” he remarked in Friday’s statement.

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Democrats failed to get anywhere near a united front on a $15 minimum wage, suggesting the measure is doomed for now

Chuck Schumer Bernie Sanders
Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a Capitol Hill press conference in 2018.

  • Senate Democrats were unable to agree on a proposed minimum wage increase, reports said.
  • Many – including the White House – support a $15 an hour federal minimum.
  • But several Senate Democrats oppose it, presenting a seemingly impassable obstacle.
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Senate Democrats were unable to reach an agreement on how best to overcome their differences and push forward with proposals to raise the federal minimum wage, according to reports Tuesday.

A meeting was convened by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday, reported Politico and the Punch Bowl politics newsletter.

It was said to include 8 moderate Democratic senators who opposed a push led by Sen. Bernie Sanders to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It is currently $7.25 an hour.

Sanders was also there, along with others from the progressive wing of the party’s Senate caucus, according to the report.

Democrats suffered a defeat on the $15 wage earlier in March, when a Senate official ruled that it could not be part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.

The Senate Parliamentarian – a nonpartisan official – said that a minimum wage hike was beyond the scope of the stimulus package, which was being considered under a special mechanism called budget reconciliation, which allows bills to pass with fewer votes.

8 moderate Democrats subsequently voted against an attempt to have the minimum wage increase included again.

They argued that the bill would mean extra costs for businesses they can ill afford when they are struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The meeting was an attempt to bridge the divide on the issue between Democrats, but Punch Bowl News, a Washington DC newsletter, reported that no breakthroughs were made Tuesday.

According to the outlet, Sanders and Sen. Joe Manchin, an influential moderate from West Virginia, battled over the size of a proposed increase, with Sanders arguing for it to be increased to $15 and Manchin favoring $11.

Another sticking point is what level the minimum wage should be for workers who get tips, like bar workers or servers in restaurants, according to Politico.

The impasse places the future of the minimum wage increase in question. The reports suggest the party has a long way to go before achieving consensus within its own ranks let alone mustering the 60 votes required to overcome a likely Republican filibuster.

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Mitch McConnell warned Democrats that if they erase the filibuster they’ll ‘release furies they can barely imagine’

Mitch McConnell Joe Biden
McConnell and Biden have worked together for decades, and have formed an unlikely bond.

  • Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell gave a dramatic warning to Democrats who want the filibuster removed.
  • He wrote what the move would result in a “totally scorched-earth Congress.”
  • President Joe Biden has signaled that he is open to significantly changing the filibuster.
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Democrats that if they press ahead with plans to change the congressional filibuster rule “they’ll unleash furies they can barely imagine.”

In an op-ed in The Wall St Journal, McConnell Wednesday defended the Senate rule, which effectively requires most bills to get 60 votes to pass into law.

It gives individual senators the ability to indefinitely delay legislation, which can only be overcome by a motion to which 60 senators agree.

The Senate is currently divided evenly 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding a tie-breaker vote.

The delicate balance means that President Joe Biden would need to overcome deep partisan divisions to secure support from GOP senators and get some of his policies through Congress to deliver on his election pledges.

The filibuster was designed to encourage bipartisan consensus. Democrats say the rule has been abused by McConnell and Republicans in recent years to block bills as part of partisan spoiling tactics.

While some progressive Democrats want it removed entirely, Joe Biden in an interview Tuesday said he was open to reforming it and requiring senators to speak on the floor of the Senate to delay a bill.

In the op-ed, McConnell defends the rule, and accuses Democrats of trying to fundamentally alter American politics. He escalated his warning, and reiterated many of the points he made in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Democrats, he writes, “are arguing for a radically less stable and less consensus-driven system of government. Nothing in federal law would ever be settled. That may be what a few liberal activists want, but does anyone believe the American people were voting for an entirely new system of government by electing Joe Biden to the White House?”

In the op-ed McConnell says that dispensing with the rule would result in a Senate even more starkly divided along partisan lines. He notes than when President Donald Trump proposed doing away with the filibuster during his time in office, Democrats strongly opposed it.

“Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like. None of us have served one minute in the Senate that was completely drained of comity and consent,” he wrote.

He says that as soon as Republicans take back control of Congress, they’d use the absence of a filibuster to erase liberal policies, and push through hardline conservative policies of their own with no need to secure bipartisan support.

“As soon as Republicans wound up back in control, we wouldn’t stop at erasing every liberal change that hurt the country. We’d strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies with zero input from the other side,” McConnell writes.

“The pendulum would swing both ways, and it would swing hard,” he warned.

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Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, says he will fight for Republicans to get a say in Biden’s infrastructure bill and block it if they don’t

Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to the press near the Senate subway following a vote in the Senate impeachment trial in February 5, 2021.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin told Axios that he wants bipartisan backing for Biden’s infrastructure bill. 
  • Manchin, a Democrat, said he’d oppose a bill without tax hikes and GOP support being sought. 
  • Manchin has emerged as a pivotal figure in the 50-50 split Senate. 
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Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat and swing voter, said he’d block President Joe Biden’s planned infrastructure bill if it doesn’t attract Republican support. 

In an interview with Axios broadcast Sunday, Manchin said that that he also wants the bill to contain tax hikes rather than relying on more government borrowing.

Manchin said he was opposed to passing the new bills using budget reconciliation, the mechanism used for Biden’s $1.9 trillion infrastructure bill which passed the Senate over the weekend.

Under reconciliation, a simple majority is required to pass the bill. It bypasses the need to gain GOP support because GOP Senators have no opportunity to filibuster the bill, a tactic which can only be defeated with 60 votes.

The Senate is currently balanced 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris wielding the tie-breaker vote.

Discussing the new bill, Manchin told Axios: “I’m not going to do it through reconciliation. I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them out completely before we start.” By “them” he meant Republicans in the Senate.

Manchin said that he trusts Biden to understand the importance of gaining a bipartisan support for major legislation, citing Biden’s decades serving as a senator from Delaware.

Manchin addressed reports that Democrats are considering using their control of Congress to scrap the filibuster rule, which would end the need to win over 60 senators to pass laws.

He said: “I would say this to my friends. You’ve got power … Don’t abuse it. And that’s exactly what you’ll be doing if you throw the filibuster out.”

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The Senate voted to progress Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus in an all-night session where VP Harris was the tiebreaker

Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris at ceremonial swearing-in photo ops with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) in the Old Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on February 4, 2021.

  • The Senate Friday approved a budget measure that paves the way for President Biden’s stimulus bill. 
  • The vote was split along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaker. 
  • The resolution means that Biden can pass the stimulus bill with no GOP support. 
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The US Senate early Friday morning passed a budget resolution that paves the way for Congress to approve President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. 

The vote was split along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote for the resolution to be approved 51 votes to 50 at around 5:35 a.m.

It was Harris’ first tie-breaking Senate vote since her election as vice president, with the Senate evenly split between Democratic and Republican senators. 

The resolution will allow Democrats to pass Biden’s stimulus bill with no GOP support.

With the tool, Democrats can pass the stimulus bill with a simple majority vote, evading potential GOP blocking tactics that would have otherwise required a two-thirds Senate majority vote to override. 

The resolution was passed as part of an all-night marathon of amendment votes known as a “vote-a-rama.” 

It will now be sent to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives for ratification. 

Read more: Trump is plotting a campaign revenge tour targeting GOP defectors after Senate impeachment trial

The process by lawmakers and government officials of crafting Biden’s relief bill can now begin in earnest. Biden is still seeking bipartisan backing for a stimulus bill.

Any measures and compromises agreed with GOP senators as part of negotiations can still be built into the stimulus bill, which could then be passed with Republican support meaning Democrats wouldn’t need the resolution tool approved Friday. 

The size of direct payment checks are among the issues dividing Republicans and Democrats, with Biden pushing for $1,400 checks and Republicans wanting $1,000 checks. 

Democrats are aiming to push through the stimulus bill by March 14, when special unemployment benefits expire unless Congress acts to renew them. 

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Trump demands to see a list of Congressional Republicans who have acknowledged Biden’s election win

Trump White House
President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House on Thanksgiving on November 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • President Trump demanded to see a list of which Congressional Republicans acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden’s election win.
  • A survey published by The Washington Post on Saturday found that only 27 GOP Senators and House members have acknowledged Biden’s victory.
  • A few Republicans have already publicly acknowledged Biden’s win while others have chosen to stand by Trump and his unfounded claims of voter fraud.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Trump demanded to know which Congressional Republicans recognized President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

His inquiry comes after a survey published by The Washington Post on Saturday found that only 25 Republicans – including 11 out of 52 GOP Senators and 14 out of 197 GOP House members – have acknowledged Biden’s election victory. This number has since been updated to 27 members.

Referring to the survey, the president tweeted: “25, wow! I am surprised there are so many. We have just begun to fight. Please send me a list of the 25 RINOS. I read the Fake News Washington Post as little as possible!” 

 

 

A few Republicans have already publicly acknowledged Biden’s win, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Denver Riggleman of Virginia.

Meanwhile, Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona, who are both staunch Trump allies, have insisted that Trump won the election, baselessly citing “too much evidence of fraud,” according to NBC.

Other party members including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have not yet confirmed their position but have hinted at accepting the final election result.

According to the Post, McConnell’s office “pointed to his recent comments about the election and declined to participate in the survey.”

The survey comes as Trump continues to litigate the November election through the courts and on Twitter.

Despite Biden convincingly winning the popular vote as well as the Electoral College, the president has refused to formally concede and has been making unfounded claims of voter fraud.

Trump has also spent the last month attacking several GOP members for certifying their state election results.

Last month, Republicans privately told CNN that their public refusal to acknowledge that Biden won the election “is all part of walking President Trump through this process emotionally.”

Nearly 90% of Republicans in Congress, or 222 members, wouldn’t acknowledge who won the election, the WashPo survey found.

Most Republicans are largely unwilling to confirm their stance in public out of fear they will anger the president and his allies, especially as he teases a 2024 presidential run.

Many members may also be waiting for the Electoral College, where presidential electors will officially cast their votes for each state’s presidential winner on Dec. 14, to make public statements about the election.

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