There has increasingly been talk among Democrats, including presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, of ending the filibuster in the Senate if the party regains majority control.
There is at least one Senate Democrat who flatly objects to the notion, however. According to the Daily Caller, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told a reporter the idea is “bulls**t” and would undermine the role of the Senate as a deliberative and consensus-building body.
The filibuster is an old Senate rule that has been around since nearly the start and requires a threshold of 60 votes in order to end debate and proceed to an actual vote on a bill. The purpose is to guard against bare majority rule and encourage at least some measure of bipartisan agreement on key issues of the day.
That 60-vote threshold would likely prove an incredibly difficult obstacle to surmount if Democrats only obtain a slim majority and former senator and Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidency, and would help prevent them from being able to push through radically progressive legislation over the objections of Republicans in the minority.
Manchin calls “bulls**t”
With that in mind, there is a growing number of Democrats who are openly talking about doing away with the filibuster completely should they regain power. Sen. Manchin is not among them, however, telling CNN reporter Manu Raju, “That’s bulls**t,” when asked about eliminating the procedural safeguard.
“The whole intention of Congress is basically to have a little bit of compromise with the other side,” Manchin told the reporter, according to the Daily Caller. “Our job is to find common and cooling ground, if you will, to make something work that makes sense.”
Raju also reported that Manchin may not be entirely alone among Democrats in opposing a move to abolish the filibuster, as Sen Doug Jones (D-AL) also expressed that he “would not favor getting rid of that” and called such a move a “slippery slope” toward undermining the institution of the Senate.
However, given the uphill battle Jones is facing to be re-elected in the predominately red state of Alabama, he may not be in the Senate next year to join Manchin in blocking an end to the filibuster. Of course, the entire push relies upon Democrats gaining enough of a majority in November’s election, which will require flipping several seats without losing any others.
The Daily Caller noted that this isn’t the first time that Democrats have changed age-old Senate rules to suit their agenda, as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2013 invoked the so-called “nuclear option” to end the 60-vote filibuster on all presidential nominations except for those for the Supreme Court.
Then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned at the time that the move would backfire on Democrats — and sure enough, once President Donald Trump was elected, McConnell, now serving as the majority leader, expanded upon what Reid started and got rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees as well, though he has left it in place for legislation.
If Democrats do insist upon ending the filibuster, the Senate would no longer be any different than the simple majority-rule House of Representatives, defeating the whole purpose of separate legislative bodies.
While the move could certainly prove politically expedient in the short term, Democrats will undoubtedly cry foul once Republicans inevitably regain the majority and turn the tables on them.