Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday there was “no circumstance” in which he would vote to eliminate the filibuster, likely ending hopes for some of President Joe Biden’s more ambitious legislative initiatives.
“The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government,” Manchin wrote in an opinion piece 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.”
Democrats hold a slim margin in the Senate, with 50 lawmakers and Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. The filibuster requires 60 votes to pass most legislation in the Senate, meaning the votes of all Democrats and 10 Republicans are needed to pass any major policy.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has also said she opposes eliminating the filibuster.
Biden has expressed support for reforming the filibuster, calling it a relic of the Jim Crow era, although he has largely pushed for it to become more difficult to use. The president said he would support a rule shift that would mandate lawmakers physically stand on the Senate floor and talk.
While Manchin’s stance will imperil many potential Democratic priorities, including gun control legislation, the party was handed a victory this week after the Senate parliamentarian said lawmakers could use a process called budget reconciliation multiple times a year to advance major spending and tax bills with a simple majority.
Biden’s latest major policy, a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, could pass without any Republican support using such a maneuver. The president has expressed a willingness to negotiate on the scope of the package, saying he is “open” to GOP ideas.
“Compromise is inevitable,” Biden said Wednesday. “We’ll be open to good ideas in good-faith negotiations. But here’s what we won’t be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction, simply, is not an option.”
Manchin did throw water on the idea of Democrats using budget reconciliation as a carte blanche mechanism to pass legislation. It’s unclear if his stance would imperil the infrastructure package.
“Unfortunately, our leaders in the Senate fail to realize what goes around comes around,” he wrote. “We should all be alarmed at how the budget reconciliation process is being used by both parties to stifle debate around the major issues facing our country today.”
He added: “I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate.”
Manchin said he was open to discussions about filibuster reform mere weeks ago, telling “Meet the Press” he would be willing to consider procedural “carve-outs” that could allow some measures to be passed with a simple majority. But those overtures are over, the senator said.
“Every time the Senate voted to weaken the filibuster in the past decade, the political dysfunction and gridlock have grown more severe,” Manchin wrote Wednesday. “The political games playing out in the halls of Congress only fuel the hateful rhetoric and violence we see across our country right now.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.