What is the big deal with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and a group of Democrats hiding behind his skirts? He has two diametrically opposed ideas. Go bipartisan and continue the filibuster. Senator Manchin was overheard on a Zoom teleconference session, which The Intercept acquired. And what do you know? His public face differs from his private one.
Manchin suggested to billionaires in the Zoom meeting that filibuster reform might lead to Dems supporting some of their other agenda. He also told No Labels, which hosted the meeting, that the January 6 commission was important for two reasons. The first was to understand how security failed to prevent it from happening again. The second one was that it was important to find out Donald Trump’s role in the insurrection.
When it came to Sen. Roy Blunt, a moderate Missouri Republican who voted no on the commission, Manchin offered a creative solution:
‘Roy Blunt is a great, just a good friend of mine, a great guy. Roy is retiring. If some of you all who might be working with Roy in his next life could tell him, that’d be nice and it’d help our country. That would be very good to get him to change his vote. And we’re going to have another vote on this thing. That’ll give me one more shot at it.’
Actually, the WV senator said he was considering a 55-vote filibuster, down from 60 votes. Plus, he wanted the minority to have to appear in the Senate literally to maintain a filibuster. Regarding the 55-vote filibuster:
‘That’s that’s one of many good, good suggestions I’ve had. I looked back … when it went from 67 votes to 60 votes, and also what was happening, what made them think that it needed to change. So I’m open to looking at it, I’m just not open to getting rid of the filibuster, that’s all.’
Manchin’s spokesperson Sam Runyon said:
‘Senator Manchin was discussing the issue of money in politics and the impact campaign donations have on Senators and members of Congress. He was not soliciting donations for himself or anyone else.’
Manchin publicly said that he drew the filibuster line at 60, but in the Zoom call he said he was “open to other ideas:”
‘Right now, 60 is where I planted my flag, but as long as they know that I’m going to protect this filibuster, we’re looking at good solutions. I think, basically, it should be [that] 41 people have to force the issue versus the 60 that we need in the affirmative. So find 41 in the negative. …’
‘I think one little change that could be made right now is basically anyone who wants to filibuster ought to be required to go to the floor and basically state your objection and why you’re filibustering and also state what you think needs to change that’d fix it, so you would support it. To me, that’s pretty constructive.’
Co-executive Director of No Labels Margaret White released a statement that read:
‘The group who engaged with Senator Manchin is motivated by a concern about the future of our nation. This was not a fundraising call and any suggestion to the contrary is a false and obvious attempt to undermine Senator Manchin because he is one of the rare leaders in Washington who refuses to just toe the party line. It’s often a lonely place to be. No Labels is proud to stand with him.’
Manchin listed his objections to the S. 1 For the People Act, which broadly reforms voting rights, according to Congress.gov. He opposed automatic voter registration due to some of his rural voters lacking internet. He also wanted states to be able to purge voter rolls. Plus, he wanted campaign refinance reform to apply “equally to labor and business:”
‘I’m telling you why I’m against something. So I’m going to send to [No Labels leaders] Margaret [White] and to Nancy [Jacobson], everybody on the voting thing, what I support, and the voting changes that need to be made and what I oppose in S. 1. So at least I’m saying I’m against it for this reason, and here’s the things I think can make a piece of legislation better. I think we all should do that. We should be responsible for that.’
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