Senator Manchin Opens the Door to Filibuster Reform

In a series of television interviews, Manchin emphasized his support for the filibuster rule, which effectively imposes a 60-vote threshold for most legislative action in the Senate. But he told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd that “if you want to make [filibustering] a little bit more painful — make them stand there and talk — I’m willing to look at any way we can.”

Under a “talking filibuster,” any “member of the minority party can filibuster as long as he/she stays put on the floor.” But once a member finishes speaking, the filibuster would end, and “there’d be a vote at a simple majority threshold” of 50 votes, instead of the existing 60-vote threshold required to end a filibuster.

Instead, today’s filibuster is a straightforward move to reject unanimous consent on a bill that the minority can wield painlessly: According to former Vox writer Ezra Klein, “Today’s filibusters simply paralyze the Senate until the majority either finds 60 votes to proceed or gives up and moves on to another piece of business.”


“If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk,” Manchin said. “I’m willing to look at any way we can, but I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.”

However, Manchin did not rule out using the budget reconciliation process to pass a voting rights bill with a simple majority, keeping the door open to a potential workaround for Democrats to push through a voting overhaul while preserving the filibuster. The House on Wednesday narrowly passed a sweeping package of election-related reforms, a proposal they’ve given the symbolically important designation of H.R. 1.

But Manchin said Democrats need to meaningfully engage with Republicans before going down that path, which they utilized late last week to pass a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package without a single GOP Senate vote.


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