Two former Democrat presidents and an extremely high-profile Hollywood celebrity have reportedly been pestering West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin about eliminating the filibuster.
A source speaking with Politico this week said that the senator has been telling his fellow Democrats that his phone line’s been blowing up with calls from high-profile figures outside Congress.
“He’s heard from former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and talk-show legend Oprah Winfrey, plus former staffers to both Manchin and former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.),” Politico reported Friday, citing the source.
It’s presumed all three, including even Winfrey, recognize that a jettisoning of the filibuster would grant Democrats supreme power — or at least until Republicans retake control of the government.
Both Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have been staunch in their opposition to eliminating the filibuster, either permanently or temporarily. They recognize that the move could (and would most likely) backfire in the long run, just as former Senate leader Harry Reid’s elimination of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations eventually did.
While their colleagues likely recognize this risk as well, they appear to believe that the legislation they’re seeking to pass — so-called “voting rights” legislation that would drastically weaken election integrity — would guarantee perpetual victory for them.
H.R. 1 should be called the Corrupt Politicians Act and it must be defeated! It’s the radical left’s #1 bill because their number #1 priority is changing the law so they’ll never lose another election. This bill is nothing more than an incumbent protection act. Please share! pic.twitter.com/Fxuz4FaizL
— Citizens United (@Citizens_United) March 18, 2021
Manchin is reportedly also being pestered by three of his colleagues, Sens. Jon Tester, Tim Kaine and Angus King.
Politico notes that they, too, “were all resistant to loosening chamber rules that empower the minority party” but changed their minds allegedly because of the Jan. 6th riot, which just happened to coincide with Democrats regaining full control of Congress.
And indeed, right after then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, took office in early 2017, the three eagerly signed a bipartisan statement calling for then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, “to preserve existing rules, practices and traditions” vis-a-vis the filibuster.
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) December 21, 2018
With the filibuster intact, Democrats proceeded to use it 314 times to prevent the then-majority party from passing laws without strong, overwhelming majority support.
But now that Democrats control the levers of power, they’re desperate — as are their media allies — to change all the rules so that they can pass laws with only a marginal majority.
Democrats used the filibuster *hundreds of times*—as recently as a few months ago!
Now, with a 50-50 “majority,” they want to abolish it to ram through a power grab.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 23, 2021
Speaking with Politico, the three anti-filibuster amigos (or comrades?) seemed positive, though certainly not confident, about their discussions with Manchin.
“I can’t say we have a solution or a resolution or a decision. But we’re continuing to talk. That’s the good news,” King told the outlet.
But even Politico admits “the effort is a long shot,” not only because of Manchin’s staunch opposition, but Sinema’s as well. Yet Democrats appear to believe that if Manchin breaks, Sinema will quickly follow suit.
“Discussions with Sinema are taking place separately, and she’s been emphatic she doesn’t want to touch the supermajority requirement. Yet many Democrats think if Manchin endorses anything, the rest of the caucus will follow,” Politico notes.
The assumption seems to be that she’s just a weak woman standing behind the big, strong man. Yet the Arizona senator’s strong demeanor belies this notion of her just falling in line. Last year she withstood multiple harassment campaigns, in addition to widespread negative media coverage and portrayals for her refusal to toe the line.
- New York Magazine: “What Is Kyrsten Sinema’s Deal?”
- The New Yorker: “What Does Kyrsten Sinema Really Want?”
- FiveThirtyEight: “Kyrsten Sinema Is Confounding Her Own Party. But … Why?”
- The New York Times: “Kyrsten Sinema Is at the Center of It All. Some Arizonans Wish She Weren’t”
- Arizona Republic: “Come clean, Sen. Sinema. Arizona deserves to know why you now support tax cuts you opposed”
- The New Republic: “Kyrsten Sinema, We’re Sick of Your Act”
- The Daily Beast: “‘Demoralized’ Staffers Say Working for Kyrsten Sinema Is Hell”
- CNN: “Unsolved mystery: What does Kyrsten Sinema want?”
The negative headlines go on for days and days.
The fact is that she’s always gone her own way. Back in 2019, shortly after she was voted into office in the 2018 midterms, Tester, one of the three pressuring Manchin, told Politico that “she’s kind of doing her own thing.”
Furthermore, according to Politico, “Unlike any of her colleagues, she snubbed sitting Sen. Ed Markey and endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy, an old House colleague and close friend, in the hotly contested Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary. … And she is criticizing senators in both parties for ‘highly partisan’ statements on impeachment and is declining to endorse the House impeachment inquiry: ‘That’s not my job, that’s not my role.'”
It seems unlikely this same woman would fall in place even if Manchin did break, meaning she too would likely have to be convinced on an individual basis. It remains unclear, however, whether Clinton, Obama and Winfrey have been pestering her as well.
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