CNN Host Asks Democrat Joe Manchin About Filibuster Carveout. Manchin Gives A Brief History Lesson.
Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speaks during a news conference in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. A bipartisan group of senators and the White House reached a tentative agreement on a $550 billion infrastructure package, a significant breakthrough in the drive to muscle through Congress a massive infusion of spending for roads, bridges and other critical projects.
Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) gave a quick history lesson after he was asked whether he would agree to go along with a hypothetical Democratic plan to create an exemption — or carveout — for filibusters when voting rights bills are on the table. 

Manchin’s remarks came after CNN “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper asked him whether he would agree to such a change, something that Tapper said “some people in the more moderate camp” have suggested. 

The West Virginia Democrat, however, said recent history shows that, in Washington, D.C., it never stops at just one carveout. 

“I can’t imagine a carveout because I was here in 2013 when it was called a carveout,” said Manchin, referring to when then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada who has since retired, invoked the “nuclear option” and the Senate voted to get rid of the 60-vote threshold for confirming presidential cabinet nominees. 

Manchin was one of three Democrats who did not vote in favor of the carveout. The other two were Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who retired in 2015 and died last week, and Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), who lost re-election in 2014 to Republican challenger Tom Cotton.

At the time, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned Democrats that they would regret their decision, and regret it “a lot sooner than you think.” 

“We’re just going to do the cabinet for the president,” said Manchin, describing the political thinking in 2013. “And then it went into, ‘we’re going to do the judges,’ who are lifetime appointments for circuit district, they were even going to do Supreme Court but they didn’t at that time, the Democrats were in control. 2017, Mitch McConnell’s in control, comes right back in, and guess what? That carveout worked to really carve us up pretty bad. Then you’ve got the Supreme Court. So there’s no stopping it.”

Manchin, a moderate Democrat from a purple state, has made it clear that he is aggressively pro-filibuster and plans to remain so. Earlier this year, after yet another reporter asked him about his stance and whether he would ever reconsider it, Manchin exclaimed, per Yahoo News, “Jesus Christ, what don’t you understand about ‘never’?”

His fellow moderate, Senator Kirsten Sinema (D-AZ), has also said that she will not ax the filibuster and suggested that she is also against carveout exemptions. 

My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles,” she wrote in The Washington Post back in June. 

Editors Note: A previous version of this article used the wrong abbreviation for Pryor. He is from Arkansas, not Alaska. 

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