Manchin, Moderate Dems Defy Party's Push to Eliminate Filibuster

Anti-abortion group launches ad buy thanking West Virginia senator

Sen. Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) / Getty Images
January 25, 2021

West Virginia senator Joe Manchin (D.) said he will defend the congressional filibuster despite pressure from liberal activists to abolish the legislative maneuver.

Manchin's office told the Washington Free Beacon the senator's opposition to eliminating the filibuster has not changed. Other moderate Democratic senators such as Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), and Chris Murphy (Conn.) have also expressed their support for the procedure despite internal pressure.

Manchin's continued support for the filibuster affirms the stance he has taken since President Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. The West Virginia senator has repeatedly said he opposes ending the filibuster, which would allow Senate lawmakers to enact legislation with a simple majority of votes. "I can assure you I will not vote to end the filibuster, because that would break the Senate," he said. "We’ve harmed the Senate enough with the nuclear option on the judges.... The minority should have input—that’s the whole purpose for the Senate."

After dual triumphs in the Georgia runoff elections, Democrats hold a narrow 50-50 majority in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris casting a tie-breaking vote. One defection from the party is all that is necessary to prevent the elimination of the filibuster.

Ending the legislative filibuster became an issue during the 2020 Democratic primary. Eight Democratic presidential candidates said they support ending the tool, while several more said they were open to the idea.

During the primary, then-presidential candidate Biden said while he opposed eliminating the filibuster, he also would consider the idea if he believed Republican lawmakers were being too obstructionist.

Now, more Democratic Party leaders are voicing their opposition to the filibuster. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) said that "of course" Senate Democrats should consider ending the tool. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.) told the New York Times that he advised Biden to call for the elimination of the filibuster if necessary. "You can’t allow the search for bipartisanship to ruin the mandate the American people gave you," Clyburn told Biden.

Former president Barack Obama called the filibuster a "Jim Crow relic." Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid said it's only a matter of time before the filibuster is eliminated.

The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List praised Manchin's support for the filibuster and criticized the Democratic Party for trying to impose an "extreme pro-abortion agenda" on the country. The group announced a $200,000 ad buy thanking Manchin.

"The pro-abortion extremists now controlling Washington want to eliminate the legislative filibuster so they can force taxpayer-funded abortions and expand the size of the Supreme Court, filling it with pro-abortion justices," SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said. "Senator Joe Manchin, who represents the overwhelmingly pro-life state of West Virginia, has been the voice of reason in his party, urging preservation of the filibuster."