Manchin throws cold water on using budget reconciliation
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) criticized attempts to eliminate the filibuster and the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass legislation that bypasses the need of an opposing party’s vote in an evenly split chamber.
“We should all be alarmed at how the budget reconciliation process is being used by both parties to stifle debate around the major issues facing our country today,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
“Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues. Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats,” Manchin wrote.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain recently said that using the budget reconciliation process was on the table for President Biden’s infrastructure plan if Republicans refused to vote for it. The mechanism was used to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief measure in March.
The use of budget reconciliation does not require the Senate to reach the 60-vote threshold.
Manchin said efforts to abolish the filibuster and the use of budget reconciliation will open the door for drastic policy changes every time control of the Senate changes from one party to the other.
“If the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping, partisan legislation that changes the direction of our nation every time there is a change in political control,” Manchin said.
“The consequences will be profound — our nation may never see stable governing again,” he added.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has also come out against eliminating the filibuster.
Manchin said there are plenty of issues, including voting rights, that have bipartisan support and need to go through the traditional process.
“There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation,” he said.
Asked about Manchin’s op-ed in an appearance on CNN, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield sought to minimize the potential impact on Biden’s effort to pass an infrastructure package.
“This is the process. This is how the process plays out. This is how it’s supposed to work. Senators raise their issues and concerns, and we’ll work through the process,” Bedingfield said Thursday morning. “President Biden has said himself many times that his preference is to do this through regular order and he believes that Republican senators should come to the table and make suggestions.”
Asked about specific outreach to Manchin, Bedingfield said the White House is engaged in robust outreach not only to him but to House and Senate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. She would not specify the last time that Biden spoke to Manchin.
“President Biden wants to have an open dialogue. He wants to hear concerns, he wants to hear ideas and he knows this process is going to be a little bit longer, for example, than the process around American Rescue Plan and that’s OK,” Bedingfield said. “The only thing that is unacceptable to him is inaction.”
—Updated Thursday at 10:50 a.m. Morgan Chalfant contributed.
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