Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) expressed a willingness to lower the filibuster threshold from 60 votes to 55, a significant shift from his public pledge to protect the filibuster.
Manchin revealed his willingness to lower the filibuster threshold while on a Monday Zoom call with major donors, including several billionaires and corporate executives. Manchin revealed to the high-powered financial backers that he was using his public posturing against changing the filibuster threshold to get better suggestions for lowering it, according to The Intercept. As the outlet reported:
Manchin’s openness for filibuster reform on the call is notable given it flew in the face of many attendees’ hopes. Asked about a proposal to lower the threshold to beat back a filibuster to 55 votes, he said that it was something he was considering, but then quickly referred back to his earlier idea of forcing the minority to show up on the Senate floor in large enough numbers to maintain a filibuster.
“That’s that’s one of many good, good suggestions I’ve had,” he said of lowering the cloture total from 60 to 55. Manchin went on to discuss the last time the cloture threshold was lowered, in the 1970s.
“I looked back … when it went from 67 votes to 60 votes, and also what was happening, what made them think that it needed to change. So I’m open to looking at it, I’m just not open to getting rid of the filibuster, that’s all,” he said.
Manchin acknowledged that publicly he had drawn a line at 60, but said that he was open to other ideas. “Right now, 60 is where I planted my flag, but as long as they know that I’m going to protect this filibuster, we’re looking at good solutions,” he said. “I think, basically, it should be [that] 41 people have to force the issue versus the 60 that we need in the affirmative. So find 41 in the negative. … I think one little change that could be made right now is basically anyone who wants to filibuster ought to be required to go to the floor and basically state your objection and why you’re filibustering and also state what you think needs to change that’d fix it, so you would support it. To me, that’s pretty constructive.”
Manchin’s openness to moving the filibuster could have major ramifications on how the Senate operates. If a proposal to lower the threshold to break a filibuster falls from 60 votes to 55, Democrats would have a better opportunity at pushing through President Joe Biden’s agenda with little GOP support.
It is unclear if Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), the other moderate Democrat that has argued strongly about leaving the 60-vote threshold in place, would go along with a Manchin-backed plan to lower the threshold to 55. Democrats would likely need her support in order to change the 60 vote rule.
Arizona Democrats are pressuring Sinema to kill the filibuster rule so that Biden’s agenda could pass through Congress without any GOP support. As The Daily Wire reported:
Pressure keeps mounting on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to help kill the filibuster so that President Biden can push his agenda unopposed. After one of her top supporters publicly rebuked her last week, at least three dozen Democrats in Sinema’s state are pleading with her to go along with the party line.
In a letter sent to the senator this week, members of Arizona’s state House and Senate argued that Republicans are enacting voter suppression bills across the nation and tasked Sinema with helping to pass the Democrats’ voting rights bill.