Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has found himself in a position of great power as one of the rare moderate Democrats willing to go against his party, which has been highlighted by his stated refusal to eliminate the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to end debate on a bill and move forward to a vote.
Some Democrats have pushed to eliminate the filibuster, which would essentially allow the controlling party to do as they please as long as all of them support it. Manchin told “Fox News Sunday” that he wants to keep the filibuster but it should be harder to utilize. In the past, senators who wanted to stall legislation via filibuster had to literaly stand up and keep talking if they wanted to extend a debate, forcing the other side to come up with 60 votes to put a stop to it.
“I’d make it harder to get rid of the filibuster, I’m supporting the filibuster, I’m going to continue to support the filibuster,” Manchin said. “I think it defines who we are as a Senate. I’ll make it harder to get rid of it, but it should be painful if you want to use it.”
Manchin had lamented earlier that in recent years it has become much easier to use the filibuster.
“It really should be painful and we’ve made it more comfortable over the year,” he said, claiming that this has not been intentional, but it is still the reality.
“Maybe it has to be more painful, maybe you have to stand there. There’s things we can talk about,” Manchin said.
The senator said that by making the filibuster more difficult to use it would encourage Democrats and Republicans to work together more.
“My Republican friends are my friends they’re not my enemies,” he said. “And my Democrats are my colleagues, their not my enemies either that’s my caucus. Together we’ve got to make this place work and it should be hard to invoke pain. It should be painful for us, don’t make it painful for the other side.”
Manchin did end up joining with his party in voting for the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that President Biden has supported, although he did hold it up for nearly 10 hours on Friday due to a dispute over unemployment benefits.
Manchin and other Senate Democrats eventually agreed to a framework of $300 in weekly unemployment benefits through Sept. 6. In the House’s version of the relief bill the weekly unemployment benefit was $400 through Aug. 29.
The agreement also included a provision denoting that the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance is untaxable for first-time recipients in households earning less than $150,000. The clause was not included in the House bill.
Manchin also argued that despite Republicans’ concerns over the $1.9 trillion package, it is not a wish list of Democrats. He claimed that the measures included in the bill were necessary to keep the economy afloat going forward.
“Covid relief is more than just the vaccines,” Manchin said. “Keeping people able to stay in their homes is absolutely as urgent as anything else we do.”
Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.