Sen. Joe Manchin on ending the filibuster: 'Jesus Christ, what don't you understand about 'never'?'

Sen. Joe Manchin on ending the filibuster: 'Jesus Christ, what don't you understand about 'never'?'
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) arrives for the Senate Impeachment trials at the Capitol on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Monday said he'd "never" change his mind on the filibuster.
  • The filibuster means 60 votes are needed to pass most legislation in the Senate.
  • "Jesus Christ, what don't you understand about 'never'?" the Democratic senator said.

In a democracy, 50% plus one equals a governing majority. But in the US Senate, it takes 60 votes - or arcane maneuvers like budget "reconciliation" - to get much of anything done thanks to the filibuster, a Senate rule allowing a senator or senators from the minority party to hold up a bill, which has ossified into a permanent obstacle.

And that, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Monday, will "never" change so long as he's around.

Democrats, in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, are eager to use their trifecta to deliver memorable legislative victories ahead of the next midterm elections, which have historically seen the ruling party suffer setbacks.
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Some of it can be done the 50-plus-one way: the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on track to be passed this week includes $1,400 direct payments, a $400-a-week boost in unemployment, and billions of dollars in aid for state and local governments. But a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian means it will not include a hike in the federal minimum wage - and Republican support for $15 an hour by 2025 does not appear to be in the offing.

As critics are quick to note, there is nothing in the US Constitution demanding that a Senate majority's legislation be stymied in perpetuity by a filibuster (and the need to get 60 votes to end debate). Indeed, a simple Senate majority could elect to simply do away with what is just a tradition, not a law.

Manchin, the senator from West Virginia, is one of two Democrats standing in the way of that (the other is Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona). And he seems unlikely to change his mind.
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"Never!" he shouted at a journalist who asked whether setbacks to the Democratic agenda might lead him to reconsider, per a pool report filed Monday night by Bloomberg News' Erik Wasson. "Jesus Christ, what don't you understand about 'never'?"

If Manchin's party is unable to move forward with other big-ticket items, however, expect rank-and-file Democrats and members of the press to keep asking him the question. Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com
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