Manchin says it makes no sense to abandon U.S. Senate filibuster

Republicans so far this year have used the filibuster three times to block wide-ranging Democratic bills

  
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) questions President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Defense Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin during his confirmation before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) questions President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Defense Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin during his confirmation before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON - Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said on Tuesday that "it makes no sense to me" to abandon the Senate filibuster, the week after Democratic President Joe Biden said he was open to changing the custom to pass a voting-rights bill.

In an interview with the Economic Club of Washington, Manchin, a moderate Democrat whose vote is key to legislation passing the Senate, also said there was a "high probability" that Congress will approve a bipartisan infrastructure investment bill and a larger domestic investment measure to expand social services and attack climate change.

He said the $1.5 trillion he is seeking for the larger of the two bills is "more than fair," even as progressives push for more.

Republicans so far this year have used the filibuster three times to block wide-ranging Democratic bills aimed at increasing access to mail-in ballots and other steps to encourage voting and stop restrictive new election laws being enacted in Republican-controlled states.

This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer might bring yet another bill to the Senate floor: one that would reinstate the federal government's role in overseeing election law changes in certain states, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.

Republicans are again expected to deny the Senate the 60 votes needed to advance legislation beyond procedural hurdles.

Manchin has been working, without success, to gain the support of at least 10 Republicans so that the bill can pass.

Biden weighed in last week, saying that the Senate should "fundamentally alter" the filibuster process to help clear the way for voting rights legislation.

"Makes no sense to me at all," Manchin said, noting that when Democrats were in the Senate majority they defended the filibuster practice that requires at least 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to advance legislation.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis) ((doina.chiacu@thomsonreuters.com; 202-898-8322;))


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