BERNARD COLUMN: Manchin and the filibuster

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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By Jack Bernard

Well, the bi-partisan 1-6-21 Commission to fully investigate the Capital insurrection will not be created. But it would have if not for the archaic Senate filibuster, as detailed below.

By now, we all know that Senator Manchin is the main reason that the filibuster has not been abolished or substantially weakened. Manchin has implied that the Founding Fathers wanted the filibuster rule. But he is misleading citizens. The filibuster is never mentioned in the US Constitution… and he knows it.

He and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema are the only two Democrat Senators that want it preserved. And my suspicion is that she would change her mind if she were the lone holdout.

Once upon a time, the filibuster was used to reach consensus and made some sense, at least in theory. Back then, the Senate was a congenial place. Both parties had liberals and conservatives. Filibustering was only used in rare instances, unfortunately often on civil rights bills. But that changed and the 60s saw bipartisan agreement on things like the poverty program, civil rights and voting rights. 

However, that entire situation has been substantially altered. The parties are currently divided into warring tribes. The right leaning GOP dominates the South and rural states, including West Virginia and much of the Mid-West. The left leaning Democrats have the urban areas, the West Coast and the North East. 

Nowadays, with “the Grim Reaper” McConnell in charge of the Senate GOP, the filibuster is used or threatened anytime the GOP does not want a law passed. And even though they are in the minority and the Democrats control the House, the Senate and the Presidency, the GOP prevents legislation that the majority of Americans clearly support.

One example is the election bills stalled in the Senate (HR 1 and HR4).

I suppose no one should be surprised at McConnell’s actions, including Senator Manchin. After all, wily Mitch sank Obama and the Democrats by opposing the President’s extensive efforts to get the GOP on board in 2011 and 2012. The GOP then ran for office in November 2012 saying that there was a “do nothing” Democratic President and Congress. In a major rout, they easily took the House.

Unless Manchin acts very soon on the filibuster, Biden and the Democrats will be in the same position in 2022. Democrats will have little to show for their two years in office other than what they got initially on Covid relief via reconciliation (i.e., by going around the filibuster). 

GOP Congressmen will again be elected in a red wave. And Senator Manchin will be the reason why it happened.