Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a key moderate Democrat, reaffirmed his promise to protect filibuster in the evenly divided Senate on Wednesday, suggesting his party was reluctant to repeatedly use an expedited budget process to advance legislation without Republican votes. .
Manchin has long been one of the most staunch advocates of the 60-vote threshold needed to end the debate in the upper house, even as he threatens to derail key elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Despite having previously toyed with possible procedural hurdle reforms, he has repeatedly rejected questions about what might lead him to vote to completely abolish filibuster, even as Democrats have played various scenarios in which he could compromise.
In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, Manchin promised that “there was no circumstance in which he would vote to remove or weaken obstructionism,” and urged party leaders to compromise with the legislation rather than try to avoid it. Republican opposition. It currently takes ten Republicans to join all Democrats in a 50-50 Senate to pass major bills through the regular process.
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The comments rose to prominence after a key Senate official on Monday issued guidance that could 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 who used it to approve. Biden’s nearly $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill with no Republican vote.
“We will not solve our nation’s problems in Congress if we only seek partisan solutions,” Manchin wrote. “Instead of obsessing over removing obstructionism or shortening the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it is time we did our job.”
He has increased pressure for Democrats to further push the boundaries of what a majority party can do unilaterally when it has control of both houses of Congress and the White House, in order to fulfill a series of campaign promises. While Democrats do not yet have the votes to abolish filing, they have explored other avenues to ensure that Biden’s agenda becomes law.
In recent days, that has included expanding the frequency of reconciliation, allowing certain budget legislation to eliminate both houses by a simple majority. While Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough appears to have agreed with the Democratic argument that they can use the process multiple times in a fiscal year, it is unclear how and when they might use those potential opportunities and for what.
While Manchin did not flatly refuse to endorse another use of the fast-track reconciliation process, she challenged both parties to work together and engage on critical pieces of legislation, including infrastructure and fiscal changes. Any use of reconciliation would require Manchin, and virtually all Democrats in Congress, to stand united behind the legislation.
“Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues,” Manchin wrote. “Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no and get involved in finding a real compromise with the Democrats.”
While many questions remain about how Democrats could use another reconciliation opportunity, both Biden and Congressional leaders insist they want to work with Republicans to reach compromises, particularly on the broad $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal that just ended. to present the White House.
“There are things that we are working on together, some of which we approve and some of which we will approve,” Biden said Wednesday. He suggested that a group of 10 Republican senators who tried to commit to his pandemic relief plan did not do enough to jumpstart negotiations with his initial $ 618 billion plan. “If they presented me with a plan that would make the most of it and there were a billion (three or four, two or three) that would allow me to have parts of everything that was there, I would have been prepared to commit, but they did not,” he added.
The group of 10 Republican senators subsequently issued a joint statement Wednesday night arguing that the proposal had been “a first offer to the White House designed to open bipartisan negotiations” that had instead been dismissed “as totally inadequate to justify. his going backwards. ” -strategy alone “.