Manchin shoots down chance that Senate Democrats nix filibuster, expand court

Greg Nash

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday night effectively shot down any chance that Democrats are able to nix the legislative filibuster if they find themselves with control of the Senate next year. 

Democrats are currently poised to have 48 seats in January and are fighting to win two seats in Georgia that would give the party control of the Senate because in a 50-50 split Vice President Harris could break a tie, giving the party the majority. 

Manchin, during an interview with Fox News, said that if there’s a 50-50 tie that he would not vote to nix the legislative filibuster, a decision that would take it off the table for Democrats. In order to nix the legislative filibuster should they have 50 seats, Democrats would need the support of every member of their caucus including Manchin. 

“50-50 means there’s a tie. But if one senator does not vote on the Democratic side there is no tie. … When they talk about, whether it be packing the courts or ending the filibuster, I will not vote to do that,” Manchin said. 

Manchin, referring to chatter that Democrats could nix the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court, said he wanted to “rest those fears for you.” 

“That won’t happen because I will not be the 50th Democrat voting to end that filibuster or to basically stack the court,” Manchin said. 

Pressed if he was saying definitively that if Democratic leadership tried to use the nuclear option to nix the filibuster if he would vote against that, Manchin replied, “Absolutely. I will vote against that.”

Manchin is part of a small group of senators who have long been viewed as opposed to ending the legislative filibuster. 

Manchin said earlier this year that he did not support eliminating the 60-vote procedural requirement, but progressive activists viewed him as persuadable if President-elect Joe Biden got behind the idea. Progressives would likely apply fierce pressure for Democrats to nix the legislative filibuster, arguing that it stands in the way of key priorities including health care and climate change legislation. 

Democratic aides have said that a 50-50 tie likely took getting rid of the filibuster off the table for the foreseeable future given opposition from some senators. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has previously left the door open to killing the filibuster if Democrats control the chamber, an idea that has gained more support within the caucus. 

But asked on Monday if getting rid of the filibuster would still be on the table in a 50-50 Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) demurred saying he didn’t want to speculate.

Manchin’s comments come amid a fight, particularly in the House, between centrists and progressives about the direction of the party and messaging this cycle. 

Manchin, during the Fox News interview, knocked calls to “defund the police” and “Medicare for All,” and warned that the country wants a government that is moderate. 

“Doesn’t make any sense at all. We’ve got to fix the Affordable Care Act we have and I think our Republican, moderate Republicans, will work with us,” Manchin said. 

Manchin added that the “Green New Deal” and “all this socialism” was “not who we are as a Democratic Party.” 

“We’ve been tagged if you’ve got a D by your name you must be for all the crazy stuff and I’m not,” Manchin said, adding that Democrats should have a message that “didn’t scare the bejeezus out of people.” 

Tags battle for Senate majority Charles Schumer Democratic Senate Dick Durbin expanding the Supreme Court Filibuster Joe Biden Joe Manchin legislative filibuster Nuclear option Parliamentary procedure

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