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Joe Manchin slams Democrats’ push to eliminate filibuster, calls it ‘easy way out’

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Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin slammed his colleagues’ effort to alter or eliminate the filibuster in an attempt to pass sweeping election reform Wednesday, just hours before the Senate put the rule change to a vote. 

“For the last year, my Democratic colleagues have taken to the Senate floor, cable news airwaves, pages of newspapers across the country to argue that repealing the filibuster is actually restoring the Senate to the vision of the Founding Fathers intended for this deliberative body,” Manchin (D-WV) said on the Senate floor. “My friends, that is simply not true. 

“It’s just not true. The United States Senate has never, in 233 years, been able to end debate on legislation with a simple majority vote.”

Manchin vowed to support the election legislation in the upcoming cloture vote, but slammed his fellow Democrats who supported using the so-called “nuclear option” to ensure the measure passes, saying they are looking to “break the rules.” 

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Sen. Joe Manchin has been moderate in his views and has not supported getting rid of the filibuster.
AP

He pushed for compromise, pointing to a recent deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass the debt ceiling at the end of last year. 

“[You] didn’t break the rules to do that. You didn’t. You worked it out, which is the leadership’s responsibility,” he said. 

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“Allowing one party to exert complete control in the Senate with only a simple majority will only pour fuel on the fire of political whiplash and dysfunction that is tearing this nation apart, and you don’t have to look very far to see how we’re tearing ourselves apart,” said Manchin, who added that if the Democrats’ gambit succeeded, “there’s not going to be any check on the executive branch.” 

“Eliminating the filibuster would be the easy way out,” the moderate added later in his remarks. “I cannot support such a perilous course for this nation when elected leaders are sent to Washington to unite our country, not to divide our country. We’re called the United States, not the divided states and putting politics and party aside is what we’re supposed to do.”

Manchin’s comments came right in the middle of President Biden’s first press conference of 2022 and only hours before a cloture vote in the Senate on the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

Senator Joe Manchin
Manchin, however, did say he supports the legislation itself.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

When the cloture motion fails to get the required 60 votes, Schumer is expected to propose the rules change that would allow the bills to be passed with a simple majority — a move supported and urged by Biden. 

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Manchin, along with fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), has steadfastly opposed any potential rules change.

Last week, less than an hour before Biden was scheduled to meet with the Senate Democratic Caucus in a last-ditch effort to sway the two senators, Sinema delivered a nearly 20-minute speech on the senate floor, detailing her belief that the move would create further division in America. 

“While I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” she said.

Both have received criticism for their opposition from their fellow Democrats, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calling out the moderates by name on Monday. 

Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin said the nation needs checks and balances, and the support of removing the filibuster would get rid of those.
EPA

“As the voting rights bill finally comes to the floor of the Senate, there is only one vote which will really matter,” he tweeted. “Will 50 Democrats vote to override the filibuster, protect American democracy and pass the bill, or will Manchin and Sinema vote with the GOP and let the bill die?”

The same day, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) compared Manchin and Sinema’s support of the filibuster to “arguments around procedure,” which he claimed allowed segregation to last for decades after the Civil War.

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