Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a major moderate Democrat, on Wednesday reaffirmed his promise to protect the filibuster in the equally divided Senate and repeatedly opposed his party from using an accelerated budget process to advance legislation without Republican votes.
Mr Manchin has long been one of the most steadfast defenders of the 60-vote threshold needed to end the upstairs debate, even as it threatens to derail key elements of President Biden's agenda. Despite previously toying with possible reforms to the procedural hurdle, he has repeatedly brushed aside questions about what might lead him to vote to outright abolish the filibuster, even as Democrats have played out various scenarios in which he would can admit.
In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, Mr Manchin promised that there was "no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster," and urged party leaders to compromise on legislation rather than try to circumvent the Republican opposition. It currently takes ten Republicans to join all Democrats in a 50-50 senate to pass major pieces of legislation through the regular process.
The comments took on additional meaning after a key Senate official issued guidelines on Monday that would allow Democrats to continue the accelerated budget reconciliation process at least one more time before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, after they got it. used to vote without Republican Mr. Adopt Biden.
“We will not solve our nation's problems in one Congress if we only look for partisan solutions,” wrote Mr. Manchin. "Rather than focusing on eliminating the filibuster or shortening the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it is time to do our job."
The pressure on Democrats has increased to push the boundaries of what a majority party can do unilaterally when in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, to deliver on a series of campaign promises. While Democrats don't yet have the votes to get rid of the filibuster, they've explored other avenues to ensure Mr. Biden's agenda becomes law.
In recent days, this has meant, among other things, an extension of the frequency of conciliation, whereby certain budget legislation can purify both chambers by simple majority. While Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate MP, seems to agree with the Democratic argument that they can use the process multiple times in one fiscal year, it remains unclear how and when they could exploit those potential opportunities, and for what purpose.
While Mr Manchin did not outright refuse to support any other use of the accelerated reconciliation process, he challenged both sides to work together and compromise crucial legislation, including infrastructure and tax changes. Any use of reconciliation would require Mr. Manchin – and virtually every congressional Democrat – to remain united behind the legislation.
"Senate Democrats should avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues," Mr. Manchin wrote. "However, Republicans have a responsibility to stop saying no and participate in finding a real compromise with the Democrats."
While there are still many questions about how Democrats could potentially use a new opportunity for reconciliation, both Mr. Biden and the leaders of Congress insist that they want to work with Republicans to find compromises, particularly regarding the sizeable $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal just unveiled by the White House.
"There are things we're working on together – some of which we've passed and others we'll pass," Mr Biden said Wednesday. He suggested that a group of 10 Republican senators trying to compromise on his pandemic plan wouldn't do enough to kick-start negotiations with their initial $ 618 billion plan. “If they came up with a plan that did most of it and it was a billion – three or four, two or three – that gave me bits of everything that was in it, I'd be willing to compromise, but they did. not, ”he added.
The group of 10 Republican senators later issued a joint statement on Wednesday evening claiming that the proposal was "an initial offer to the White House to open bipartisan negotiations," which was instead dismissed "as wholly inadequate to justify its passage. -alone strategy. "