Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on March 25 said he disagrees with President Joe Biden that the filibuster is a “Jim Crow relic.”
Manchin has repeatedly said he is against abolishing the filibuster and told reporters on Thursday that the chamber “was designed to be something different” and meant to be deliberative to allow senators a chance to find consensus.
“I don’t think it should be [called] a Jim Crow, it’s never going to be a Jim Crow, never was intended. I don’t think so. But I understand people are looking at it a little differently,” the Democrat told reporters.
“Basically, the Senate is made to work differently. And anything I can explain about the Senate, for people that are confused about this purpose of the Senate, most of everybody in the world. Why do we have two senators for every state no matter how large or small. That should give you thought process on our founding fathers. This was designed to be something different. That means a big guy doesn’t pick on a little guy.
“I’ve been in a minority. I’ve been in the majority. So that’s all I’m trying to protect, is basically civility for making it work,” he added.
The filibuster rule was originally adopted to give the minority party a stronger voice in the Senate and prevent partisan control of the upper chamber by the majority. The rule essentially requires a super-majority threshold, now at 60 votes, to cut off debate in the Senate and bring legislative bills or other measures to a vote.
While a number of Democrats, including Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), are in favor of keeping the legislative filibuster, far-left progressive groups are pushing for it to be scrapped.
Biden, who previously served in the Senate, had recently signaled that he backs changing rather than eliminating the filibuster rule and endorses the return of the “talking filibuster,” which has been backed by a number of Democrats.
However, during his first press conference as president on Thursday, Biden said the filibuster is being “abused in a gigantic way” and suggested he is open to making significant changes to the Senate filibuster if key agenda items are not passed.
“I strongly support moving in that direction,” Biden said about re-implementing the old, talking filibuster, “in addition to having an open mind about dealing with certain things that are just elemental to the functioning of our democracy, like the right to vote. Like the basic right to vote. We’ve amended the filibuster in the past.”
“We’ve got to get to the place where I get 50 votes so the vice president of the United States can break the tie, or 51 without her,” referring to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking ability in the upper chamber.