For the billionth time: Senate Democrats aren't getting rid of the filibuster

It’s like Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football.

Every few weeks, someone — or several someones — within the Democratic party suggest that its Party’s senators are totally fed up with Republican opposition to [pick your issue] and are seriously considering doing away with the legislative filibuster.
This time, they tell us, it’s serious. It might actually happen.
    And then it doesn’t happen.
      Which brings me to the debate over raising the debt ceiling, which is currently roiling official Washington less than two weeks before the country is set to default on its debts. And the idea that this time Senate Democrats are seriously considering getting rid of the filibuster.
        On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden said the removal of the filibuster to raise the debt ceiling was a “real possibility.” Then on Wednesday, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a close Biden ally, told CNN’s Manu Raju that “there very well may be” 50 votes to eliminate the filibuster on the debt ceiling increase.

        Which, wow, right?! Big deal.
          Enter West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. “I’ve been very very clear where I stand on the filibuster,” Manchin told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “Nothing changes.” He added that attempts to suggest he might vote to get rid of the filibuster for the debt ceiling are “theatrics.”
          And, scene.
          The reality is that there are zero Republicans who would vote to suspend the filibuster in order to allow Democrats to raise the debt limit. (Currently, it would take 60 votes to end debate on the debt limit — and Republicans are refusing to play ball with Democrats on that.) Which means — because, math — that all 50 Democrats would need to be on board with any attempt to change the filibuster rules.
          And as has been the case every single day since Democrats retook the Senate majority following two runoff victories in Georgia in January, they don’t have the votes. (“You don’t have the votes aha ha ha.”) Manchin and Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are on record as opposed to changing the filibuster reform.
          We had this same debate when Republicans blocked an election reform approved by the Democratic-controlled House. Would Manchin and Sinema reconsider their past opposition to jettisoning the filibuster given the threat to voting rights? Nope!
          The simple fact is that Manchin and Sinema aren’t changing on this issue — no matter how much pressure liberal groups or even the president of the United States puts on them.
          The reason? They think that once that Pandora’s box is open, it can never be closed. Meaning that if, say, you carve out an exception to the 60-vote mark when it comes to the debt limit, it won’t stop there. Republicans, when they take control of the Senate — which they may do as soon as January 2023 — will use the debt limit exception as justification for getting rid of the legislative filibuster entirely.
            And that, they believe, would be the end of the Senate.
            You can disagree. Lots of people do! But given how Manchin sees the stakes of getting rid of the filibuster, there’s just no chance he will be the 50th vote to do so. No matter what Joe Biden or anyone else says.

            Comments are closed.