Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema

Progressives say pressure on Democratic centrists over ending the filibuster needs to move beyond Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban Senate starts infrastructure debate amid 11th-hour drama The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge MORE (D-Ariz.).

Manchin and Sinema have earned headlines — and barbs from the grassroots — by putting brakes on filibuster reform and, in Manchin’s case, by opposing sweeping voting rights legislation.

But some on the left see the pair of liberal antagonists as giving cover to other moderates who are in the way, but who have not yet come to the surface with all the attention on the two most visible holdouts.

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“It seems like there’s definitely a handful of senators who are hiding behind Joe Manchin’s skirts right now,” said Sawyer Hackett, executive director of People First Future, a political action committee started by former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. “We can’t afford to just sit back and not turn up the pressure on them.”

Potential targets to tighten the screws aren’t hard to spot.

One could be Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinNearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Biden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund Stripping opportunity from DC's children MORE (D-Calif.), who irritated progressives by hugging Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar Trump takes two punches from GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (R-S.C.) last year during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettBill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol Supreme Court's approval rating dips to 49 percent  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Jan. 6 probe, infrastructure to dominate week MORE, former President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE’s pick to succeed liberal hero Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgBill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol Supreme Court's approval rating dips to 49 percent  Anti-abortion movement eyes its holy grail MORE.

Feinstein was persuaded to step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee after the election. She’s now seen as one of several Democrats who are opposed to significantly altering the filibuster, which progressives fear with all Republicans in a 50-50 Senate will be used to block meaningful legislation during President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE’s first term.

On Thursday, Feinstein befuddled and angered activists by saying she did not believe U.S. democracy was at risk, an out-of-sync statement in a party largely horrified by what it saw as the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and continued mistruths about the election have taken hold on the right.

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“If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it. But I don't see it being in jeopardy right now,” Feinstein told Forbes.

The remarks were widely seen as more evidence that the 87-year-old senator is out of touch with fellow Democrats.

“I’m not surprised that she doesn’t think that democracy is at risk,” said Joe Sanberg, an entrepreneur and progressive activist who considered a 2018 Senate challenge against Feinstein. “Beyond the elite gates of her community is a California where we have the highest rates of poverty, where voting rights are being suppressed in the most severe ways,” he said.

“It’s completely absurd,” added Hackett, who mentioned the Capitol riot. “If she’s not able to recognize that as a threat, I’m not sure that she should be in a position of trust defending our democracy.”

Earlier this year, Manchin got a lot of attention for his opposition to including a $15 per hour federal minimum wage in the COVID-19 relief bill. Sinema also rejected the wage hike.

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But what some Democrats might have missed is that eight Democrats in total voted against an amendment from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersAngst grips America's most liberal city Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats say they have the votes to advance .5T budget measure MORE (I-Vt.) to ignore a Senate parliamentarian’s ruling that the wage increase couldn’t be included in the budget reconciliation package.

In addition to Manchin and Sinema, the $15 figure was opposed by Democratic Sens. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 Trump says he'd like to see Chris Sununu challenge Hassan Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  MORE (N.H.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Equilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power CIA watchdog to review handling of 'Havana syndrome' cases MORE (N.H.), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBottom line Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Key Biden ally OK with dropping transit from infrastructure package MORE (Del.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTop Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Bipartisan framework remains mostly consistent on climate Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards MORE (Del.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats say they have the votes to advance .5T budget measure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal MORE (Mont.) and independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingNew Senate bill would hurt charities and those they serve Overnight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada MORE (Maine).

Senators in the party appear to recognize the scrutiny they are under from an activist base, and support for ending the filibuster is growing within the Senate Democratic caucus.

Sen. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenWestern US airports face jet fuel shortage Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor The Hill's Morning Report - Biden renews families plan pitch; Senate prepares to bring infrastructure package to floor MORE (D-Nev.) backtracked after telling The Washington Post that she supported reforming instead of canceling the rule, later saying in a statement that she did support killing it off if necessary to pass voting rights legislation and as a means for “protecting democracy.”

King similarly said he would “choose democracy” after previously expressing hesitation about completely ending the practice. 

Tester, who like Manchin represents a red state that twice voted for Trump, told MSNBC this week that he’s “still for getting folks on both sides together and try and make the filibuster work,” but seemed to suggest he would support changes too.

“At some point in time this country needs Congress to act and get things done,” he said.

Two sources outside of the Senate who want to get rid of the filibuster said Tester’s remarks were seen as a positive development.

As activists seek to pile on the pressure, they say they want Democrats beyond Manchin and Sinema to feel the heat.

“Everything about this is concerning,” Sanberg said. “We in the United States Senate aren’t beholden to our constituents. That’s really how they’re acting. It’s like an unelected House of Lords.”