Sen. Joe Manchin reiterated Thursday evening that he would not support scrapping or softening the legislative filibuster shortly after President Biden huddled with Senate Democrats in an effort to win support for changing the procedural tool in order to pass major election reform legislation.
“The ability to debate and do the hard work to find consensus between to two parties is more important for our country now than ever before with the Senate evenly divided,” Manchin (D-WV) said in a lengthy statement.
“Allowing one party to exert complete control in the Senate with only a simple majority will only pour fuel onto the fire of political whiplash and dysfunction that is tearing this nation apart — especially when one party controls both Congress and the White House,” he added. “As such, and as I have said many times before, I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster.”
Manchin released his statement hours after his fellow moderate, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) spoke on the Senate floor and reaffirmed her own opposition to changing the filibuster rules.
“We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy,” she emphasized. “And it cannot be achieved by one party alone.”
Manchin praised his colleague afterward, telling reporters that Sinema had raised “the points that I’ve been making for an awful long time and she has, too.”
The two senators’ statements dealt another major blow to Biden, who has spent days ramping up pressure on the lawmakers.
Top Democrats pivoted to election reform after Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better Act hit a wall in December, when Manchin asserted he did not support key provisions. That left the White House and congressional leadership searching for another potential win ahead of the midterm elections.
Following Thursday’s meeting, a frustrated Biden acknowledged his drive to pass election reforms had stalled for the near future, telling reporters that “we missed this time.”
“I hope we can get this done, but I’m not sure,” the president said. “But one thing for certain [is that] like every other major civil rights bill that came along, if we miss the first time, we can come back and try it a second time.”
Manchin has insisted that any changes to Senate rules be done with the approval of Republicans as well as Democrats, and noted in his statement that while some members of his party have changed their position on the filibuster, “I have not.”
“Respect is a two-way street — I respect that they have changed and I would hope they respect that I have not,” he said.
“For those who believe that bipartisanship is impossible, we have proven them wrong. Ending the filibuster would be the easy way out,” he concluded. “I cannot support such a perilous course for this nation when elected leaders are sent to Washington to unite our country by putting politics and party aside. It is time we do the hard work to forge the difficult compromises that can stand the test of time and deliver on the promise of a brighter tomorrow for all Americans.”