Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has once again crushed progressives’ hopes of radically changing American election laws by adamantly refusing to change his position on the Senate filibuster.
On Friday, Manchin met with the group of Texas Democrats who fled their state to obstruct a Republican-backed election security bill to discuss federal election reforms. These Democrats were there to lobby Manchin for a filibuster “carve-out” for the For the People Act, a bill that would overhaul U.S. elections and undo various election security laws including the reforms supported by Texas Republicans. Hypocritically, while they are calling for an end to minority obstruction in U.S. Senate, they are happily preventing the Republican majority in Texas from conducting business.
Manchin was unmoved. “Forget the filibuster,” he told reporters after the meeting.
By maintaining his opposition to nuking the filibuster, Manchin ensures that Senate Democrats will have no way to overcome the 60-vote requirement to advance their voting bill. Republicans have already used the filibuster once to block the For the People Act, causing progressives to scream at Manchin and fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) for, in their words, allowing Republicans to destroy democracy by enacting more stringent voter ID requirements and implementing restrictions on sending unsolicited mail-in ballots to voters.
Manchin and the filibuster have each proved to be significant obstacles to other parts of President Joe Biden’s agenda, most notably infrastructure. Progressives who wanted a massive $6 trillion “infrastructure” bill that would cover free college tuition, national paid leave, child care, and various elements of the Green New Deal had to settle for a $3.5 trillion compromise after the West Virginia Democrat objected to the cost of the bill. His vote is crucial because Democrats will use a process known as budget reconciliation to advance their spending bill, which will circumvent a filibuster attempt by Republicans. But to do that, they need every Democrat in their conference to support the bill — losing a single vote in the 50-50 Senate means defeat.
In an interview with The Hill, Manchin indicated he will support the $3.5 trillion spending package as long as several of his concerns are addressed.
“I’m concerned about inflation, I’m concerned about a competitive tax code, I’m concerned about environmental standards that basically leave people behind in all these things,” he explained.
He confirmed that he will not oppose the budget resolution Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will put forward later this summer, the first step in activating the budget reconciliation process Democrats will use to overcome the filibuster.
“I want it to proceed,” Manchin said.