Pressure is Building on Manchin to Follow Schumer on Voting Rights

Vic Hinterlang /
Vic Hinterlang /

The pressure West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is facing is massive. He took a great deal of heat from his progressive colleagues for his unwillingness to vote for President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Now, those Democrats are putting pressure on this moderate senator to back filibuster reform so that they can pass some massive election overhaul bills that are currently before the Senate. The hope on the left is to get these passed before the 2022 midterm elections.

The pressure is building because of the deadline Democrats have established on January 17th. They want the vote taken to change the filibuster before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Democratic leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is working hard to get a commitment to back filibuster reform from Senator Manchin. Schumer’s clan is getting ready to push the bills through the Senate on a party-line basis. The New York senator has vowed to change the Senate rules by the 17th if he has to.

“If Republicans continue to block our efforts, The Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: Free and fair elections,” Schumer wrote on Twitter.

He made it clear that there have already been serious discussions with Senator Manchin regarding the filibuster reform effort, but he also said that the work to overhaul the Senate rules is an uphill battle.

Schumer told the press that Senator Manchin has said all along that he wants to deal with Republicans and that the rest of the senators have been extremely patient. Schumer said that he believes Manchin knows that they will not get cooperation from the GOP.

Senator Manchin has been adamant that he will not support filibuster reform, and Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic senator from Arizona, has agreed with him. This is even though Schumer and his colleagues have spent a great deal of time trying to get them on board with the party plan.

Schumer spoke with CNN’s “New Day” and said, “There have been constant and just about every senator has been talking to both senators — to Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema about how important these issues are, not only to our caucus, to our country. Senators are going up to them and saying, ‘I’ll lose my election if they — you allow these changes to occur.’”

He went further indicating that the bottom line is that they must allow the Senate to pass the two vital pieces of legislation, even if there is not one Republican that will join them. Dick Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip from Illinois, believes in Schumer’s agenda. He state his full support and reiterated the deadline of January 17th. But he did admit that getting them to vote with the rest of the caucus is going to be a challenge. He hopes that they will be on board, but he said you won’t know until after the vote. Durbin expressed that it has been months and months of working with both Manchin and Sinema, trying to convince them to give the Senate a fair chance to deal with voting rights.

Senator Manchin gave the impression to reporters that he was not in favor of any significant changes to the filibuster. He also indicated that he was not willing to invoke the “nuclear option” to remove the filibuster completely. Manchin said that he has always been for changes in the rules that have always been enforced. He is looking for changes that enable every to be involved. But he said that being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option is a “very, very difficult…heavy lift.”