WASHINGTON (AP) – Standing on the eve of the first major legislative victory with President Joe Biden, a key, moderate Democrat said on Sunday he was open to changing Senate rules to allow more party parties to vote on other parts of the White House agenda. such as voting rights.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin stressed his desire to maintain a procedural hurdle known as filibuster, saying the minority party should always make a significant contribution to major legislation. But he noted that there are other ways to change the rules, which require 60 votes for most legislation. An example is the “speaking filibuster,” which requires senators to slow down the bill while keeping their word, but then “up or down” to give a simple majority vote if they give up.
“The filibuster has to be painful, really painful, and we’ve made it more comfortable over the years,” Manchin said. – Maybe it should be more painful.
“If you want to make it a little more painful, set it up and talk,” Manchin added. “I am willing to look at all possible ways, but I am not willing to take away minority participation.”
Democrats win next legislative priorities after Biden’s early signing on Saturday, with Senate approval a $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan in a 50-49 party vote.
The final move is expected in the House on Tuesday if leaders can keep support for progressives when frustrated that the Senate has cut unemployment benefits and deprived it of raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.
Over the weekend, some 100 domestic Liberal members of the Progressive Caucasus in Congress called the weakening of certain Senate provisions “bad politics and bad politics”. De Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. He also described the changes as “relatively minor concessions” and stressed that the bill retained its “bold, progressive elements”.
Biden says he will sign the measure immediately if the House approves it. The legislation would allow many Americans to receive a $ 1,400 direct check from the government this month.
“Lessons Learned: If We Have Unity, We Can Do Great Things,” said a joyful Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., of The Associated Press in an interview after Saturday’s vote.
Nevertheless, to approach the Democrats, Biden called on Manchin at the last minute to secure his vote after he was late in resisting the breadth of unemployment benefits. This immediately raised questions about progress in a partisan environment where few Republicans are expected to support the president’s agenda.
Democrats have used an accelerated budgeting process known as reconciliation to approve Biden’s top priority without Republican support, a strategy that has succeeded despite some modest maintenance. But in the coming months, work on other issues, such as voting rights and immigration, may prove more difficult.
Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C. promised that Senate Republicans would block the House’s sweeping bill on voting rights. The measure, known as HR 1, would limit party political preparations in congressional districts, hamper voting and make the campaign finance system more transparent. This would offset the restriction of voting rights advancing across Republican-controlled state houses across the country following Donald Trump’s repeated false claims about “stolen” elections.
“Not a Republican will vote for HR 1 because federal takeover of elections will create a system where there is no real voter security or control,” Graham said. “It’s a liberal wish list in terms of how to vote.”
The Senate is split 50-50, but Democrats control the chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris can give a tie. Since most legislation requires 60 votes, Democrats must win the support of at least a few Republicans to adopt Biden’s agenda.
When asked about the bill on voting rights, Manchin left the door open on Sunday to support some solution to allow passage by simple majority, suggesting he could support “reconciliation” if he was convinced Republicans were able to provide input. But it was not clear how this would work, as voting rights were not linked to the budget and did not correspond to the conciliation process.
“I’m not going to go there until my Republican friends are able to have their say,” Manchin said.
On Sunday, the “Fix our Senate” anti-filibuster advocacy group praised Manchin’s remarks as a viable way to get over the Senate’s “pure partisan obstruction”.
“Sen. Manchin had just seen Senate Republicans unanimously oppose the wildly popular and desperately needed COVID bill, which was passed only because it could not be filiberalized, so it is encouraging to hear him express his openness to reform to ensure that voting rights rights and other critical bills. blocked by a purely obstructive minority, ”the group said in a statement.
Manchin spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “Fox News Sunday,” CNN’s “State of the Union,” and ABC’s “This Week,” and Graham on Fox News Channel’s Sunday morning future.
Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Lisa Mascaro contributed to the report.