Sen. Joe Manchin, a key Democratic swing vote, is open to crafting a 'more painful' filibuster

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Peter Weber
·2 min read
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The House is expected to clear President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill on Tuesday, after the Senate narrowly passed it Saturday morning, following a lengthy negotiation with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) over unemployment benefits. The narrow Democratic majority is now discussing how to pass other legislative priorities, and Manchin said Sunday he's open to reforming the filibuster.

"The filibuster should be painful, it really should be painful, and we've made it more comfortable over the years," Manchin said on Fox News Sunday. "Maybe it has to be more painful." One solution could be to require a "talking filibuster," where senators can block legislation temporarily through feats of endurance. "If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk," Manchin said on NBC's Meet The Press. "I'm willing to look at any way we can, but I'm not willing to take away the involvement of the minority."

Manchin repeated that he's "not going to change my mind" on ending the filibuster, but his comments were still greeted positively by filibuster opponents. The talking filibuster "preserves some ability for the minority to slow a bill as long as they physically hold the floor, but then allows an up-or-down vote once they give up," Demand Justice executive director Brian Fallon tweeted. "This is the Jimmy Stewart model."

Manchin also expressed an openness to exploring other ways to sidestep blanket GOP opposition, suggesting that perhaps the budget reconciliation process could be used to pass voting-rights legislation — it can't — or other priorities. "But I'm not going to go there until my Republican friends have the ability to have their say also," he said. "I'm hoping they will get involved to the point where we have 10 of them that will work with 50 of us."

"If we continue to see obstruction from our Republican colleagues — as we saw through this COVID relief package — I think the patience is going to wear thin, even on moderate Democrats," Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) said Sunday on CNN. "But we'll see."

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