Manchin Vows Not To ‘Eliminate Or Weaken’ Filibuster

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin promised not to “eliminate or weaken” the filibuster in the face of calls from some members of his party to eliminate the procedure.

“The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting [minority] input and our democratic form of government,” Manchin wrote in an April 7 op-ed in the Washington Post. Senate Democrats have discussed either eliminating the filibuster or using budget reconciliation to pass President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package.

Manchin called on legislators to “usher [in] a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.” However, when senators can not find common ground, the majority should not use budget reconciliation or the filibuster to avoid minority input, he writes.

“If the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping, partisan legislation that changes the direction of our nation every time there is a change in political control.”

Senate Democrats used the reconciliation process to pass the American Rescue Plan, although that process prevented them from including a minimum wage raise in the package. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough ruled on Monday that Democrats could use the reconciliation process a second time to pass the infrastructure bill. (RELATED: Senator Admits Democrats Will Use Procedural Tactic To Pass Infrastructure Bill Without Republicans)

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who defended the filibuster when the Democrats were in the minority during the Trump administration, recently described the procedure as the “death grip of democracy,” and called for his party to eliminate it. That call led Republican Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell to threaten “a completely scorched-earth Senate” that would turn the chamber into a “100 car pileup.”

Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have resisted calls from their Democratic colleagues to abolish the filibuster. Sinema said in January that she is “not open to changing her mind” on the filibuster.