In an evenly divided chamber, moderate U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been able to wield significant political power on various issues over the past year.
Now, his fellow Democrats are reportedly pressuring him to support an overhaul to the Senate filibuster, thus allowing for easier passage of partisan legislation.
Manchin’s phone ringing off the hook
According to one source, he recently complained that he has received a wave of calls from former presidents, celebrities, and various other high-profile progressives.
The senator’s office did not offer an immediate response to that assertion.
Democratic leaders want to push through an election reform bill in the near term and can only hope to do so if the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote majority to pass most legislation, is in place.
The party has sought to bypass the filibuster on multiple occasions during the current session, but the reconciliation process is not an option on non-budgetary matters.
For that reason, the only option Democrats have is to get rid of the filibuster and its 60-vote threshold, which is what many in the party are leaning on moderates like Manchin to support.
“You eat the whole turkey”
Although some critics previously saw Manchin as a politician who talks tough but eventually folds, he has continued to stand up to serious pressure from the left while single-handedly blocking progress on President Joe Biden’s costly Build Back Better spending plan.
Reporters asked him on Tuesday whether he would be willing to consider carving out an exception to the filibuster in the interest of passing the election reform bill.
“Anytime there’s a carve-out, you eat the whole turkey,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether the West Virginia Democrat holds firm in his stance on this issue. In any case, it seems clear that he can expect some serious backlash on multiple fronts from within his own party.
Many progressive pundits warn Democrats against ending the filibuster since it could easily come back to bite them if Republicans take control of the chamber after this year’s midterm elections. Even President Joe Biden has long argued for keeping it in place, arguing in 2020 that “ending the filibuster is a very dangerous move.”