And as the Democrats’ long-standing internal debate over the fate of filibuster draws near its watershed moment, some party members want to take a break from what could be a messy battle over Senate rules until that other unavoidable questions advance, given their slim majorities in the House and the Senate. This sentiment was confirmed by talks with more than a dozen Democrats on Tuesday.
But some of Manchin’s caucus colleagues are unsure when he and other suspicious moderates will be ready for this conversation, if at all. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), A close ally of President Joe Biden, said of the filibuster debate that might upset Manchin and others: “Let’s not get there yet.”
“We have other things that need to happen. Like, right now, ”Coons said, citing Democrats’ hopes for a triple axis by securing a bipartisan infrastructure deal in the House alongside a multibillion-dollar spending bill. “The fight for voting rights and filibuster is not coming. at a critical point next week. It will peak in the coming weeks if there is no receptivity in the Republican Party at all. [conference]. “
While Senate progressives have pushed for months to overturn legislative obstruction, even those in favor of the idea are not publicly calling for an immediate confrontation within the party on the issue. Democrats privately admit that the push for a major rule change is unlikely to succeed at this time, given the reluctance of several caucus members.
“I would love to get rid of the filibuster, of course,” said Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). Even so, she added, “people are not particularly prepared to talk about filibuster reform before they even realize that there are 50 of us in the world. [same] page ”on the party line’s social spending plan.
Such pessimism from the left comes after outside groups spent months touting the Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill as the legislative vehicle to eliminate the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. Many Democrats argue that opposition from Senate Republicans should not prevent the bill from becoming law. Their compromise voting bill is unlikely to receive GOP votes, let alone 10.
One of Manchin’s closest Republican allies, Maine Senator Susan Collins, on Tuesday reiterated her reluctance to join the Democrats’ bill: “I don’t see why a state that does a great job of facilitating the vote should see his laws overturned by the federal government. ”McConnell also criticized the effort and said Republicans would not support the Manchin-backed compromise, which creates new federally-mandated voting rules and requires more groups. politically active in disclosing their donors.
This means Democrats are on an inevitable fast track to a final calculation of filibuster as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer prepares a likely failed vote on Manchin-backed legislation as early as next week.
The Democratic caucus has yet to fully express its feelings on Senate rules, and the party is eager to close an issue that concerns them all in Congress. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Predicted that when the elections bill comes forward, “you will probably have a whole series of opinions” on filibuster.
The ramifications of Senate rules are far broader than voting rights and promise to dictate Democrats’ success on issues ranging from gun safety and immigration to raising the minimum wage to abortion – all of which struggle to generate the kind of bipartisan support for the Senate infrastructure. bill created last month when it was passed with votes from 19 Republicans.
“We have an ongoing conversation about filibuster in one form or another pretty much every day,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “It’s the cloud that hangs over everything we try to do.”
Democrats are desperate to find a workaround that might appeal to Manchin and other moderates who fear changing the rules and seeing massive partisan swings when Senate control changes hands. A proposal under discussion among some Democrats is to eliminate the first of two qualified majority votes required in the chamber, which officially opens the debate on the legislation, with the reasoning that a second threshold of 60 votes to close the debate is sufficient.
Others at least want the GOP to speak up if it wants to filibuster a Democratic bill or create a filibuster exception for the legislation. Many progressives, of course, want to do away with the 60-vote threshold altogether.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) Has led discussions regarding Senate rule changes, but Democrats have yet to coalesce around a single idea. Merkley said on Tuesday that after Manchin’s pleas to Republicans failed, Democrats would be more prepared for the debate.
To complicate matters, Biden does not specify whether he supports the 60 vote threshold, although he said earlier this year that he would support some type of Senate rule reform. And time is running out: If Republicans take over either house of Congress next year, any changes to the legislative obstruction will be moot.
Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) have been the most vocal supporters of keeping Senate rules intact, and Manchin has made it clear that he does not support an exception, even if only for rights. to vote. But there are plenty of other skeptics in the caucus.
“Some think there might be ways to change the filibuster that would allow us to move something forward,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.). “I haven’t made a commitment to support anything yet. “
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Who was on the task force that developed the compromise election bill, did not explicitly say he would support an exclusion of voting rights. Yet he seemed open to discussion, whenever it took place: “This is the most important legislation we have to deal with. So I think all the remedies are on the table.
Yet without Manchin’s buy-in, a rules debate is toothless. Manchin said McConnell didn’t even ask him to pledge to preserve filibuster at their meeting on Tuesday.
“Everyone pretty much knows where everyone is on these issues,” Manchin said.