Joe Manchin Isn't Budging On Filibuster, Even As The Country Teeters Toward Default

Not even the threat of impending economic collapse is enough for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to change his opposition to weakening the filibuster.“I’ve been very, very clear where I stand, where I stand on the filibuster,” Manchin told reporters Wednesday. “Nothing changes.” Manchin continued: “I truly implore both leaders ― my caucus leader Chuck Schumer and the minority leader Mitch McConnell ― I implore them to engage, start working this out. This should not be a crisis.”Democrats have floated the idea of creating a “carve out” in the filibuster rule specifically to raise the debt limit. Republicans have been using the filibuster, which puts a 60-vote threshold on passing most legislation, to block any increase to the debt ceiling, even as the country teeters toward default.On Tuesday, President Joe Biden, who has in the past endorsed reforming the filibuster but not abolishing it, said it was “a real possibility” Democrats would do away with the rule to stave off economic turmoil.Manchin killed that idea Wednesday, reiterating that he remains staunchly opposed to any Senate rule changes.Republicans in the Senate say they are refusing to vote to raise the debt limit in protest of Democratic spending. The debt limit has to be raised regardless of Democrats’ policy agenda, in order to pay for past bills — including Republican policies. Congress has raised the debt ceiling more than 90 times in the last century, including three times during the Trump administration. It’s not that Republicans don’t want to raise the debt limit. They do. They just don’t want to vote to do it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said Democrats should raise the debt limit on their own through a budget reconciliation process, which can be done with only a simple majority vote. Democrats are already hoping to pass much of their agenda through the reconciliation process. Raising the debt ceiling that way would be cumbersome and time-consuming.“I think it would be an absolute disaster for us to set the expectation that the only way to raise the debt ceiling is through reconciliation,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said. “Reconciliation is not a process meant for the debt ceiling.”McConnell on Wednesday proposed a partial concession — that Republicans agree to raise the debt limit enough for the country to stave off default until December.Before that, Republicans had filibustered every attempt Democrats made to raise the debt limit, refusing to even allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own.“Republican obstruction on the debt ceiling over the last few weeks has been reckless. It’s been irresponsible,” Schumer said.The Treasury Department has said it will no longer be able to borrow money to pay off U.S. debt holdings as of Oct. 18. If that happens, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she fully expects the fragile economy will sink into a recession, and the government will fall behind on crucial Social Security and veterans benefit payments.The possibility has made a lot of Democrats nervous and willing to discuss altering Senate rules around the filibuster.“Arcane rules should not be used to inflict massive economic harm on our economy,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee, said, minutes after fellow Democrat Manchin ruled out the idea of changing the filibuster.“I’ll let each member speak for themselves,” Wyden said in response to Manchin’s comments.It’s clear that Manchin and other conservative members of the Democratic caucus are not yet on board with changing the procedure.Still, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is holding out hope that Republicans’ continued obstruction and the threat of default will push those like Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), also a vocal opponent of weakening the filibuster, toward creating a filibuster carve-out on the debt ceiling.“What I expect will happen today shows that [Republicans] are not serious about working with us to continue to keep the full faith and credit of the United States good,” Coons said.Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.

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