Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says threats will not change his mind as the Senate moves toward an effort to abolish the filibuster.
The filibuster is a piece of Senate parliamentary procedure that forces most substantive legislation to get 60 votes in order to pass. Democrats want to abolish that for the sole purpose of ramming home an elections bill that would transfer power to make election-related decisions to the federal government, and out of the hands of states.
Democrats frame this as an essential response to election integrity bills passed by Republican-dominated states, while red state leaders frame the action as Democrats trying to perpetuate their dominance by rigging the rules in their favor.
Killing the filibuster is opposed by all 50 Republicans in the Senate. The only way it can be done is if all 50 Democrats walk in lockstep, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting a tie-breaking vote. However, Manchin and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have said they will not abolish the filibuster.
That has led to Democratic threats that Manchin will face a primary when he’s up for reelection in 2024. On Tuesday, Manchin shrugged off the threats, according to The Hill, and issued a challenge of his own.
“I’ve been primaried my entire life. That would not be anything new for me,” Manchin said. He then challenged his party with three simple words: “Bring it on.”
“The majority of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus have changed their minds. I respect that. They have a right to change their minds. I haven’t. I hope they respect that, too. I’ve never changed my mind on the filibuster,” Manchin said.
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Sinema also faces political heat for her decision.
On Tuesday, Emily’s List, a major contributor to female Democratic candidates and what The New York Times called Sinema’s top donor in 2018 when she was elected, said it might not support her unless she changes her vote.
“Right now, Senator Sinema’s decision to reject the voices of allies, partners and constituents who believe the importance of voting rights outweighs that of an arcane process means she will find herself standing alone in the next election,” Emily’s List said in a statement.
Martin Luther King III, the son of the Rev. Martin Luther King, said this decision would forever brand Sinema and Manchin, according to The Washington Post.
“History will not remember them kindly,” he said.
Some Democrats said that while taking a stab at passing the elections bill is important, it cannot lead to long-term divisions.
“I think that everyone’s positions on voting rights and these rules changes are about to be very well known,” said Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, according to the Times. “It’s important to take these votes, but it’s not important to have the same conversation over and over and over. In fact, it’s important that we don’t.”
Manchin said that he, like Sinema, supports large chunks of what is in the elections bill, but will not go to the extreme of killing the filibuster to pass it.
“There are so many things that we can agree on,” he said, according to the Post.
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