Casey Harper (The Center Square).
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is again caught in the middle a heated Congressional discussion as Democratic leadership threatens overthrow of the filibuster rule. This would allow the Democratic leadership to push for voting legislation which would grant the federal government wide powers over state elections.
“If Republicans continue to block our efforts, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: Free and fair elections,” Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
The move comes on the heels of Democratic leadership’s failure to get the Build Back Better spending bill across the finish line in December. Democrats were unable to secure votes for another major spending program, partly due to months of high inflation data.
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“For five and a half months, I have worked as diligently as possible meeting with President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and my colleagues on every end of the political spectrum to determine the best path forward despite my serious reservations,” Manchin said in December. “I have made my concerns clear through public statements, op-eds and private conversations. My concerns have only increased as the pandemic surges on, inflation rises and geopolitical uncertainty increases around the world.”
Manchin has signaled he opposes lowering the filibuster threshold, a move that would help pave the way for Democrats’ legislative agenda.
“There’s been rule changes, but there’s never been a change with a filibuster, the rights of the minority,” Manchin told Bret Baier of Fox News Sunday in December.
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Sinema also resisted the idea of significant changes to the filibuster. Axios reports Tuesday that Sinema said to her Democratic colleagues she wouldn’t support the elimination of filibuster. Manchin raised concerns this week and said that Republicans must agree to change the filibuster rules.
“Any way you can do a rules change to where everyone’s involved and basically that’s a rule that usually will stay,” he told reporters. “That’s what you should be pursuing, being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option. It’s very, very difficult.”
Republicans joined with Democrats last year to pass bipartisan legislation on infrastructure. President Joe Biden praised his willingness to compromise across party lines.
Republicans have fired back, saying Democrats have gone too far by pushing to “break” Senate rules.
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“No party that would break the Senate can be trusted to seize unprecedented control over all 50 states’ election laws,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement Wednesday. “The fact that many Democrats are this desperate for a one-party takeover of our democracy proves exactly why they cannot be allowed to do it.”
The Build Back Better legislation is still being pursued by the Biden administration. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki sparked controversy for saying Americans do not support Build Back Better because they don’t know what is in it.
“They don’t know exactly what’s in Build Back Better and what it means,” Psaki said. “It’s always easier to sell a package to the public once it’s passed, so we’re hoping we’re going to get to that point, and that’s our objective.”
Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.