As the Senate sits in a standoff over the future of the filibuster, Joe Manchin doesn’t know how he can be any clearer.
“If I haven’t said it very plain, maybe Sen. McConnell hasn’t understood, I want to basically say it for you. That I will not vote in this Congress, that’s two years, right? I will not vote” to change the filibuster, Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in an interview on Monday afternoon. “And I hope with that guarantee in place he will work in a much more amicable way.”
Some Democrats say if Republicans block Democrats’ priorities, it’s worth preserving the ability to change the rules later. Asked if there is any scenario that would change his mind, he replied: “None whatsoever that I will vote to get rid of the filibuster.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed for a guarantee that the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for most legislation remains in place this Congress after Democrats took the Senate and White House, giving them a slim majority in a tied Senate. The impasse has left the Senate’s committees unorganized and hobbled the Democrats from moving quickly in Biden’s first days.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday afternoon that Democrats are “not letting McConnell dictate how the Senate operates. He’s minority leader.” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), one of Schumer’s top deputies, said that Democrats will still seek a bipartisan resolution to organize the Senate and its committees “but in the end we have to organize … the clock is ticking.”
In theory, Democrats could change Senate rules to install an organizing resolution unilaterally. But they might not have the votes to do that. And Manchin hopes his guarantee is good enough for McConnell and that it will unstick the standoff between McConnell and Schumer.
“I’m in the same place I’ve always been. Busting the filibuster under any conditions is wrong. We can organize the Senate. I’m sure we can work through that. If he knows as strongly as I feel about it?” Manchin said of McConnell. Manchin stands to be Energy Committee chairman when the Senate finally reaches a deal on organizing.
Some centrist Democrats have said if Republicans abuse the filibuster, they might be open to revisiting the filibuster rules. And most every Senate Democrat opposes bowing to McConnell’s demands in the opening days of their majority.
But it seems that no matter the conditions in the next two years, Democrats won’t be able to get the total party unification they would need to enact a rules change. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) also opposes eliminating the filibuster and said she’s as firm as Manchin and is “not open to changing her mind,” her office said on Monday.