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Politics Dismissing GOP threats, Dianne Feinstein backs fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on the filibuster

01:10  12 june  2021
01:10  12 june  2021 Source:   salon.com

Joe Manchin offers little comfort to frustrated Democrats

  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 wearing a suit and tie: Dianne Feinstein; Joe Manchin © Provided by Salon Dianne Feinstein; Joe Manchin

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 drawn intraparty scorn over 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

  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 "choose democracy." 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 dozen states passing new voting restrictions and, more importantly, laws that would make it easier to overturn elections.

"If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it," Feinstein told Forbes' Andrew Solender. "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 co-sponsored the bill in 2019). Asked what reforms she might support, Feinstein said, "I'd have to take a look" but "right now, nothing comes to my mind."

Some Democrats wonder when Schumer will get tough with Manchin

  Some Democrats wonder when Schumer will get tough with Manchin Sen. Joe Manchin's defiant statement that he will not vote for a sweeping election reform bill nor vote to get rid of the filibuster has progressive groups and some Democratic lawmakers wondering when Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will get tough with the West Virginia Democrat.Manchin is a member of Schumer's leadership team and Schumer has several points of leverage, including the power to replace him as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But Schumer doesn't have a reputation for getting tough with colleagues. Instead, he keeps them close and hardly ever criticizes Democratic senators who cause him headaches.

Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California-Irvine who has tracked many of the hundreds of voting restrictions pushed by Republicans this year, said Feinstein's denial that democracy was in danger left him "speechless."

"A minority Party that has shown no respect for democratic norms has made a mockery of the Senate and majoritarianism," tweeted Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at the University of Georgia. "Senator Feinstein is still trying to govern like it's the 1990s."

"A truly baffling quote," said Sawyer Hackett, 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.

Manchin's staunch opposition to ending filibuster may imperil Biden's agenda, including infrastructure

  Manchin's staunch opposition to ending filibuster may imperil Biden's agenda, including infrastructure Manchin dashed hopes on the left that recent events might compel him to reconsider his support for keeping the Senate's 60-vote rule to pass bills.The moderate Democrat, in a Sunday op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, not only revealed his opposition to the Democratic-backed For the People Act but reiterated he won't vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.

"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 The Daily Beast. "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, told CNN this 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 the "talking filibuster" to 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.

Joe Manchin said in 2011 that the US was 'paralyzed by the filibuster' but is now blocking efforts to change it

  Joe Manchin said in 2011 that the US was 'paralyzed by the filibuster' but is now blocking efforts to change it In a 2011 press release, Manchin said that senators wanting to halt bills should turn to "sustained debate" rather than the filibuster.Manchin is currently the only Democratic senator refusing to back the For the People Act, a sweeping voting-rights bill that would cancel many GOP-led voting restrictions at the state level. It passed the House with no Republican Party support, and its chances of passing the Senate have been destroyed due to Manchin's opposition.

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 told The Washington Post this 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 MSNBC this week over concerns that it has been "weaponized," but he told CNN 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 Politico 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 a "heat shield" for 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’s sweeping new voting rights proposal, explained .
The pivotal senator has released a potentially transformative plan to promote fair elections.But on Wednesday, Manchin did something unexpected: He released a long list of voting reforms that he does support, potentially scrambling the congressional debate over voting rights as the Senate prepares to vote on Democratic leaders’ proposal.

usr: 1
This is interesting!