Home U.S Manchin says 'no' to ending or weakening the filibuster

Manchin says 'no' to ending or weakening the filibuster

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West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin firmly planted his foot down Wednesday, penning an op-ed on his decision not to vote in favor of weakening or removing the filibuster.

“I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin said in an article for the Washington Post. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”

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Left-wing Democrats in the House like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington have repeatedly called for filibuster reform or removal.

But it has remained largely unclear how most Democrats in the Senate feel about making changes to the filibuster.

Manchin said he could not justify to his constituents a valid reason to weaken the measure that currently requires the Senate have at least a 60-40 vote in order to pass a bill. 

Critics of the practice say it works as a policy clog, and in a 50-50 split Senate, it makes passing legislation in a partisan upper chamber problematic.

“Generations of senators who came before us put their heads down and their pride aside to solve the complex issues facing our country. We must do the same. The issues facing our democracy today are not insurmountable if we choose to tackle them together,” Manchin said in his op-ed.

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But the filibuster has seen changes since its implementation in the early 1900’s.

Filibuster rules used to require a senator to stand on the chamber’s floors and continuously talk in order to stall a vote on legislation they objected to – a scene made popular in the film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

But by the 1970’s this was no longer required. Senators now are able to lodge their objection to a bill, triggering the 60-vote requirement to advance the bill.

The convenience of easier filibuster requirements has meant a drastic increase in bill stagnation. In 2019-2020 there were 298 votes held in an attempt to overcome a filibuster, a stark increase in the six such votes held in 1969-1970, 50 years prior, reported Reuters.

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But Manchin noted that both Democrats and Republicans have a duty to find compromise in addressing legislation.

“Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues. Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats,” Manchin concluded.

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