Politics Dismissing GOP threats, Dianne Feinstein backs fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on the filibuster
Joe Manchin offers little comfort to frustrated Democrats
The riddle of Joe Manchin is going to drive his fellow Democrats to distraction. The senator from West Virginia, who sits at the fulcrum of Washington's balance of power, signaled in a new CNN exclusive interview that he's nowhere near ready -- yet -- to loosen a grip that is stalling President Joe Biden's ambitious agenda.The senator from West Virginia, who sits at the fulcrum of Washington's balance of power, signaled in a new CNN exclusive interview that he's nowhere near ready -- yet -- to loosen a grip that is stalling President Joe Biden's ambitious agenda.
Dianne Feinstein and Joe Manchin Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., drew calls from progressives to resign this week after she rejected Democratic calls to reform the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation amid a Republican push to restrict ballot access that the party has likened to "Jim Crow."
Sens. Joe Manchin D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have drawnover their defense of the filibuster as numerous other centrist Democrats have softened their opposition to reforming the Senate rule in the face of Republican obstruction and assault on voting rights.
Joe Manchin to Oppose For the People Act, Says Partisan Voting Legislation Will Further 'Destroy' Democracy
"Voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen," the West Virginia Democrat wrote.Manchin wrote an opinion article published by the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday, explaining why he plans to vote against the For the People Act and continues to oppose ending the filibuster. Biden and Democratic leaders have called for the passage of the major voting rights bill as Republicans in state legislatures across the country have pushed forward election changes that Democrats and activists have characterized as voter suppression.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who has defended the filibuster, said this week that if it comes down to a choice between the archaic Senate rule and democracy, he would" Asked about the comment on Thursday, however, Feinstein denied that democracy was in peril despite Republicans voting to block the certification of last year's presidential election and GOP legislators in more than a passing new voting restrictions and, more importantly, .
"If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it," Feinstein. "But I don't see it being in jeopardy right now."
Feinstein said she would "wait and see what happens" with the For the People Act, a sweeping voting rights bill that every Senate Republican and Manchin have opposed (Manchin previously). Asked what reforms she might support, Feinstein said, "I'd have to take a look" but "right now, nothing comes to my mind."
Mondaire Jones Says Manchin Op-Ed Might as Well Be Titled 'Why I'll Vote to Preserve Jim Crow'
The West Virginia Democratic senator has come under fire for refusing to support the For the People Act following an op-ed he wrote for the Charleston Gazette-Mail.In the Sunday op-ed, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia said he was against the legislation because it had not garnered any Republican support. He felt a resolution for changes in voting rights should be reached with agreement from both parties.
Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California-Irvine who has tracked many of thepushed by Republicans this year, said Feinstein's denial that democracy was in danger left him
"A minority Party that has shown no respect for democratic norms has made a mockery of the Senate and majoritarianism,", a law professor at the University of Georgia. "Senator Feinstein is still trying to govern like it's the 1990s."
"A truly baffling quote,", the executive director of the progressive People First Future, a group founded by former presidential candidate Julian Castro. "If Diane Feinstein isn't able to recognize the attacks on our democracy and the rise of fascism she needs to get hell out of the Senate."
Feinstein has defended the filibuster in the past but her renewed defense as Democrats push to advance voting rights legislation highlights that opposition to filibuster reform inside the party is bigger than just Manchin and Sinema, who have been on the receiving end of progressive criticism for months.
Joe Manchin is opposing big parts of Biden's agenda as the Koch network pressures him
The Koch network has been actively pressuring Joe Manchin to oppose key legislative items linked to President Joe Biden's agenda.That lobbying effort appears to be paying off. Manchin, in a recent op-ed, wrote that he opposed eliminating the filibuster and that he would not vote for the For the People Act, which, advocates say, would limit the influence of big money donors on elections.
"There are certainly more senators with reservations about the filibuster that are giving Manchin steam to stay firm," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told. "But I have also heard from colleagues that none of those other senators want to play Manchin's role."
But so far, other centrist Democrats have equivocated on whether they would support reforming the filibuster to pass voting rights.
Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., who was elected in a special election last year and will face voters again next year, toldthis week that he would "evaluate any change to our rules, regardless of what they are, based on what's in the best interest of Arizona, and the best interest of our country."
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., a top target for Republicans in next year's midterms, has expressed "concerns" about eliminating the filibuster though she has supported reforming the rule in the past. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev, another top GOP target, has supported bringing back theto make it more difficult to block legislation, a proposal Manchin has floated in the past. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who voted with Manchin and other centrists to oppose a $15 minimum wage increase earlier this year, has stayed quiet on the issue.
Inside Biden and Manchin's Joemance
Democratic senators say that only the president can convince the influential centrist to sign off on key parts of the party's agenda.Four months after Biden helped secure Manchin’s vote for a party-line, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law, the president is taking a different approach with the West Virginia Democrat who's blocking multiple party priorities. Biden didn't sound pleased last week when, during a speech marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre, he appeared to take a public swipe at Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) by citing two Democrats who frequently sided with Republicans.
Others, like King, have said they would be open to reform in the interest of advancing voting rights.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev, has opposed eliminating the filibuster but toldthis week she would support such a move "in the case of protecting democracy." Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, opened the door to backing filibuster reform in an interview with this week over concerns that it has been "weaponized," but he told that he was not there yet. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a longtime ally of President Joe Biden and opponent of filibuster reform, similarly told that the filibuster may have to go if Republicans continue to block the president's agenda.
Former Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., described Manchin as afor other Democrats reluctant to eliminate the filibuster. But the other Democrats' reluctance to publicly back Manchin's stance means that they are likely to fall in line if Manchin folds, Ocasio-Cortez told The Daily Beast.
"That doesn't mean they shouldn't be pressed for their position and offer clarity to their constituents, though," she added. "People deserve to know with clarity where their elected representation stands on the filibuster."
Joe Manchin keeps Democrats guessing on sweeping election bill .
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is keeping his colleagues guessing on whether he will back a sweeping election bill during a high-profile vote next week. Democrats are expected to hold a key test vote next week on S. 1, titled the For the People Act. The debate will spotlight a simmering months-long fight over voting rights. The measure is guaranteed to run headlong into a filibuster, but Democrats are hoping to at least put up a unified front and keep the focus on GOP opposition - not their own divisions. Progressive activists, meanwhile, want to get all senators in the Democratic caucus to back the bill.