The filibuster has become a hot topic. Almost all Senate Democrats have committed to killing the Senate filibuster, according to an analysis from The Washington Post — a critical tool for Republicans to hold off much of President Joe Biden’s spending agenda in the narrow 50-50 Senate.
The highest-profile holdout has remained Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. — but in a shocking reversal, that may have just changed.
According to NBC’s national political correspondent, Manchin told reporters that he supported some form of Democrat-backed filibuster elimination.
Take a look —
Speaking to pool reporters, Joe Manchin mentions several filibuster rule changes he’d support:
• A talking filibuster (unclear if 60 needed to end debate and vote)
• Killing cloture on motion to begin (but not end) debate
• Flipping to 3/5ths *voting* (instead of 60 flat)
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 4, 2022
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The term “filibuster” refers to any tactic for extending debate on a measure. In the event of a filibuster, the Senate usually requires 60 votes to end debate. In other words, the minority party can — and does– use the filibuster to stall an unpopular bill and keep the Senate from voting on it.
The filibuster prevents the “tyranny of the majority.” It keeps the majority party — the Democratic Party in this case, thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote — from steamrolling through a radical agenda over the objections of the minority party.
The Senate has changed filibuster rules only a few times since creating it in 1806. The 1974 Budget Control Act capped the amount of time for debate on bills related to the budget.
In 2013 the Senate Democrats — led by the late Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-N.V. — pursued the “nuclear option” and lowered the vote threshold from 60 to 50 for certain matters, like Cabinet appointees. In 2017 the Senate Republicans extended this rule to Supreme Court nominations.
Manchin was elected to the Senate in 2012. He saw these changes benefit Republicans, and he committed to preserving the filibuster for that reason, among others.
Manchin told CNN in August, “The Democrats were in control. 2017, Mitch McConnell’s in control, comes right back in. And guess what? That carve-out worked to really carve us up pretty bad.”
Apparently, Manchin has backed down since August.
As of Tuesday, Manchin reportedly supports changing the vote threshold from 60 votes to three-fifths, regardless of the total number of senators voting.
Manchin also reportedly supports returning to a “talking filibuster.”
Under a “talking filibuster,” a senator would need to keep speaking in order to extend debate. The Senate included the talking filibuster for most of its history. For example, the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, D-S.C., once famously spoke for 24 straight hours as part of a filibuster.
Now Manchin wants to bring it back… but he may not get his way.
To change the filibuster, the Democrats would need one more vote in addition to Manchin’s. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., remains the last holdout. Last year, she wrote in The Washington Post that she opposed filibuster reform due to concerns about “instability, partisanship, and tribalism.”
And Manchin’s apparent flip-flop doesn’t have Democrats celebrating quite yet. Liberals say they don’t trust the West Virginia senator.
After all, Manchin unceremoniously pulled out of negotiations on the Build Back Better Act last month. Plus, Manchin spoke negatively of the filibuster according to only this one report.
Prior to that, he spent several months repeating the need to preserve the filibuster.
Still, the Democrats are pushing for new reports from Manchin’s inner circle.
Wow!!! This is huge. BUUUUT, after the shit he pulled with BBB, I’m taking this with a titanic grain of salt https://t.co/h7ZNCr7JGU
— Jersey Patriot (@SouthJerzUSA) January 5, 2022
Yep, that's exactly my view. I was hesitant to criticize him all year, but at this point it's pretty obvious the guy's clearly a performance artist and his statements should be treated as such, until of course his actions start proving otherwise. https://t.co/tg4TPUEI4g
— Biden's Accomplishments (@BidensWork) January 5, 2022
The Horn editorial team