Manchin Continues To Block Schumer’s Dreams

Manchin Continues To Block Schumer’s Dreams

Manchin Continues To Block Schumer’s Dreams

For some reason, Chuck Schumer thinks that he will be able to end the filibuster by using January 6th as a cudgel.

Is there anything that the Democrats won’t use January 6th for? Schumer’s rationale is more than a little murky here.

But Schumer’s latest letter set a new high watermark for how far and how explicitly he is willing to lean into calls to change the chamber’s rules. Schumer argued that the Senate’s rules had been “hijacked” by Republicans to “guarantee obstruction” and invoked the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), whom Manchin frequently cites as a guidepost.”

“We must ask ourselves: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?” Schumer wrote in the letter, adding that they “must adapt” and “must evolve.”

Schumer in his letter said the Jan. 6 attack was “directly linked” with the “partisan actions being taken by Republican-led state legislatures” on voting measures.”

“Let me be clear: January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness — an effort to delegitimize our election process, and the Senate must advance systemic democracy reforms to repair our republic or else the events of that day will not be an aberration — they will be the new norm,” he wrote.”

So Schumer’s rationale is as follows: states are busy tightening up their voter laws, which means that Democrats MUST pass the bills they want in order to federalize elections (and hold on to power). However, they can’t do that with the filibuster intact. Schumer is going for, if not the end of the filibuster, then a “carve-out” exception for these voting bills. And in order to get what he wants, he will start invoking January 6th all day long. And he wants one of two things – either the Republicans agree to pass these voting bills, or they will start debate on ending the filibuster.

Schumer’s problem is, of course, that he does not have all 50 of the Democrats in the Senate behind him. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have been quite adamant that they aren’t going to kill the filibuster just to pass a few laws, and then be left out in the cold when the Democrats are in the minority again. The entire point of passing these voting “reforms,” of course, is to make sure that Democrats always win going forward, and making sure that the pesky filibuster will never be a problem again.

Which lead to the press seeking out comments from Joe Manchin. The senator from West Virginia was willing to talk to the press, but it added up to the same message that he has had the whole time: no change unless a majority wants it.

Asked by CNN if he’s open to using the nuclear option — a process that could be used to override filibuster rules by a simple majority vote — to pass changes to voting laws, Manchin expressed skepticism, saying that would be a “heavy lift.”

“The reason I say it’s a heavy lift is once you change a rule or you have a carve out, I’ve always said this — Anytime there’s a carve out, you eat the whole turkey. There’s nothing left because it comes back and forth,” he said.”

Manchin has previously indicated that any rules changes should be done on a bipartisan basis, meaning that he would be opposed to nuking the filibuster along party lines to pass voting legislation. The West Virginia reiterated on Tuesday that remains his position, saying, “that’s my absolute preference” when asked whether he would not be open to changing the rules without Republican buy-in.”

“I’ve always been for rules being done the way we’ve always done, two-thirds of the members voting. Any way you can do a rules change to where everyone’s involved, that’s a rule that usually will stay. That’s what we should be pursing,” Manchin said.”

And even Schumer is admitting that getting Manchin AND Sinema on board with killing the filibuster is not going to be simple.

“We’re discussing them in private with Sen. Manchin [and] Sen. Sinema,” Schumer told reporters at the Capitol. “And before we vote on them, whichever one we’ve arrived at — you’ll hear and see about it.”

“It’s an uphill fight,” Schumer said of getting all 50 members of the Democratic caucus on board with the filibuster change. “I don’t want to give anybody the illusion that we’re there, but hopefully we can get 50 of us to come to an agreement.”

Schumer, just like before, is not listening to Manchin. It’s going to take MORE than just the Democrats being in lockstep for him to agree to change the filibuster. And Sinema has said exactly nothing publicly, but her vote is crucial as well. It’s not just convincing ONE of them – Schumer has to convince BOTH of them. And that’s just not going to happen.


Manchin is in a red state and Sinema is in a purple state. Again and louder for Chuck Schumer and the progressives: THEY WANT TO KEEP THEIR SENATE SEATS. AND they would like to keep their seats in a Senate that has a better chance every day of swinging back to Republican control. They can’t be ignorant of Biden’s poll numbers. The midterm elections are a referendum on the party in power at the White House. Neither Manchin nor Sinema is up for re-election this time around, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to put themselves in the position of having to defend an unpopular president or dismantling the filibuster.

You know who IS up for re-election? Chuck Schumer. Is Schumer simply putting on a show in order to make sure he doesn’t get primaried from the left, say… by someone like AOC? It sure would give him some progressive cred if he tried to get rid of the filibuster, but then was able to point the finger at Manchin and Sinema for stopping him. Maybe this isn’t about trying to save Biden’s agenda. Maybe it’s about Schumer trying to save his own Senate seat in deep blue New York.

Featured image: composite image of Joe Manchin (via DonkeyHotey on Flickr) and Chuck Schumer (via DonkeyHotey on Flickr), cropped and modified, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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  • — The entire point of passing these voting “reforms,” of course, is to make sure that Democrats always win going forward, and making sure that the pesky filibuster will never be a problem again. —

    This is what game theorists call a “mainchance” play. It’s for all the marbles, and damn the risk that it might somehow go wrong. If the Democrats were to get their way, end the filibuster, and federalize election rules and procedures, and the Republicans were somehow to regain federal power, they could lock the Democrats out of power by their own machinations. So the downside is as large as the upside, if not even larger.

    Mainchance plays are rare when the stakes are high, for in the event that it fails, a mainchance gambit forecloses the future. So one must ask: Why? Why now? And the answer that I get is that the Democrats fear that the devastation brought about by the Usurper Administration’s policies has doomed them in 2022 and 2024…unless they can cheat so massively that the American electorate becomes irrelevant to the outcome.

    Schumer and his ilk must be desperate indeed to contemplate such a course.

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