Forget what the senator from West by God, etc., told the common folk in his recent op-ed; Joe Manchin was singing a slightly different tune on a Zoom call this week with filibuster-loving fat cats.
The call was arranged by the (shitty, useless, Joe Lieberman-led, but I repeat myself) No Labels group, according to a transcript obtained by The Intercept (and brought to our attention by valued commenter Martin in a thread downstairs). A few excerpts below:
Manchin told the assembled donors that he needed help flipping a handful of Republicans from no to yes on the January 6 commission in order to strip the “far left” of their best argument against the filibuster. The filibuster is a critical priority for the donors on the call, as it bottles up progressive legislation that would hit their bottom lines…
Manchin told the donors he hoped to make another run at it [a bipartisan commission vote] to prove that comity is not lost. He noted that Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who missed the vote, would have voted for it had he been there, meaning only three more votes are needed. “What I’m asking for, I need to go back, I need to find three more Republican, good Republican senators that will vote for the commission. So at least we can tamp down where people say, ‘Well, Republicans won’t even do the simple lift, common sense of basically voting to do a commission that was truly bipartisan.’ It just really emboldens the far left saying, ‘I told you, how’s that bipartisan working for you now, Joe?’”
To find those mythical “good Republican senators,” Manchin hit up donors on the call who he said may be “working with [retiring Senator] Roy [Blunt] in his next life” to put in a good word for a Yes vote. That raises all sorts of ethical questions. But let’s not argue over who is bribing whom.
It sounds like Manchin really is feeling the heat from “the far left” or at least believes it’s to his advantage for big donors to think that. He also sounds sincere about the comity bullshit, though that could be nonsense decanted for this particular audience.
In any case, here’s an interesting exchange on filibuster reform:
Manchin’s openness for filibuster reform on the call is notable given it flew in the face of many attendees’ hopes. Asked about a proposal to lower the threshold to beat back a filibuster to 55 votes, he said that it was something he was considering, but then quickly referred back to his earlier idea of forcing the minority to show up on the Senate floor in large enough numbers to maintain a filibuster…
Manchin acknowledged that publicly he had drawn a line at 60, but said that he was open to other ideas. “Right now, 60 is where I planted my flag, but as long as they know that I’m going to protect this filibuster, we’re looking at good solutions,” he said. “I think, basically, it should be [that] 41 people have to force the issue versus the 60 that we need in the affirmative. So find 41 in the negative. … I think one little change that could be made right now is basically anyone who wants to filibuster ought to be required to go to the floor and basically state your objection and why you’re filibustering and also state what you think needs to change that’d fix it, so you would support it. To me, that’s pretty constructive.”
The highlighted part seems significant, at least to me. One of the most maddening things about the filibuster as currently practiced is that all the onus is on the majority. Right now, Republican refuseniks get to hide behind McConnell’s skirts when opposing popular legislation. It shouldn’t be that way.
Short of getting rid of the big donor-beloved relic, altering the filibuster so that the minority party has to show up and contend with a calendar controlled by the majority (we shouldn’t underestimate the power of that) could be a game changer. It might offer opportunities to wear the bastards down by making them publicly take unpopular stands on big issues, and it might even allow progress through attrition on smaller items. That’s worth doing, IMO.
Anyhoo, interesting stuff. Thanks Martin!
Open thread, and I’m still on the Putin subject, so thanks to germy and Aaron Rupar for alerting me to the fact that American journalism is not quite dead. Her name is Rachel V. Scott and she deserves kudos.
That meeting transcription has flop sweat dripping out of my computer speakers. WH has signalled they’re going ahead with infrastructure next week come hell or high water, and he knows he has no chance at three more votes.
@zhena gogolia: The follow-up was great, too.
One thing I have learned from the Biden first few months is that the sausage does not get made quickly. In retrospect, remembering all the crap of Trump’s that got reversed because he wouldn’t go through the process, it makes sense. Biden has been pretty good at fulfilling his promises, except that instead of ‘first day’ everything takes time and stages.
How’s about The Intercept reveal who these donors/bribers are. Or is that only what they do to people named Reality Winner.
So someone finally found out who funds The Federalist, Meghan McCain’s husband’s “magazine”
Jon Stewart went on Colbert’s show to promote the covid lab theory?
I would prefer the talking filibuster (if the thing must be kept), but requiring 41 votes to sustain could work. That is, if it means the Republicans have to keep 41 people in the chamber 24-7, because the second they don’t the Democrats will call for a vote to sustain.
I am don’t think making them actually speak on the floor to state their objections will be useful — because it won’t. They will love the camera time, wave little American flags and say they will only vote for this Bill when Biden assures them our Olympic athletes are safe from Chinese DNA thieves, what about the magnetic vaccines, and besides the bill is socialist anyway.
They will be portrayed by the right wing media as brave purveyors of truth — and besides private enterprise is going to change the earth’s orbit soon to fix climate change and the Western drought (which is in no way related) and everything will be fine.
@Chief Oshkosh: They’re listed in the linked article:
BTW, I read somewhere that Reality Winner was released to a halfway house this week. Poor thing. I hope she gets a big fat book deal and spills gallons of tea.
Jon Stewart did a great job skewering conservatives, but he is extremely problematical and more in love with his Adult In The Room self-image than the truth. I will never forgive him for his interview with Obama, which he spent excoriating Obama for failing to bring ‘change’ because there was so much partisan division in congress. He absolutely loves his ‘both sides’ and held whole political rallies about it. He has no problem being friends with white supremacists if they’re polite about it. I’m really not surprised to hear him come up with any contrarian viewpoint, especially now that he’s been released from a staff that would keep him grounded in reality.
On June 8th, during the cloture motion to establish a commission to investigate the Trump-backed assault on the capitol, 54 Senators (60.6% of those voting) voted yes , 35 Senators voted no.
And the 35 members were victorious.
It sure seems like the cloture vote could have been 59-0 and still lost. This is an absurd system.
@patrick II: The thing I think might be useful is if reform is constructed in such a way that it puts the onus on the 41 to show up in chambers to block legislation whenever the majority sets a vote. Schumer is crafty enough to schedule votes to interfere with fundraisers and campaigning, etc. They’ll get damned tired of that.
As for the talking part, IMO, wingnut media coverage is mostly irrelevant. Let Republicans who want to kill popular bills take a stand in front of swing voters, who are the only ones who matter in a lot of districts. The ability to do this in the shadows for so many years has been highly advantageous to Republicans, IMO.
For a little time. They are lazy and cowardly. Mind-bogglingly lazy and cowardly. They walk out on shit all the time. Spotlight love they have. Stamina, not so much.
The FDRLST Media Foundation largest donors from 2015-19:
DonorsTrust $5.1 million
Uihlein Foundation $850,000
Thomas W. Smith Foundation $450,000
Johnny Gentle (famous crooner)
I know it’s reductive, but whenever I read these stories I immediately think of all those good, salt-of-the-earth Mainers who voted for Biden but also Susan Collins because “they know where she stands” and she weren’t no slick, metropolitan downstater like that other gal.
Think of what just that one extra seat would’ve accomplished already. Plus, Sinema might not be acting this way if she knew she was the last vote needed, rather than being able to take cover behind Manchin’s more public intransigence.
@germy: Jon Stewart is a vegan now and runs an animal sanctuary with his vegan vet tech wife. My experience with vegan converts is they have some serious overlap in the conspiracy theory space, so I guess I’m not surprised Stewart is into the lab leak “theory”.
The best thing to come out of his stewardship of The Daily Show is the lift it gave to the brilliant Stephen Colbert, who is a national treasure.
Major Major Major Major
There are definitely good and bad ways to do a talking filibuster rule so the devil, as always with parliamentary procedure, is in the details.
He also released a doc saying what he would support in a voting rights package, and it’s acceptable if that’s where we end up. Yes to early voting and ending gerrymandering and a bunch of non-headline-generating stuff, but also he wants nationwide voter ID as long as people can use things like utility bills. Given the recent academic research we’ve seen about the effects (or lack thereof) of voter ID legislation (tldr it’s probably counteracted by D outreach), this would be as I said acceptable to me. Gerrymandering and adding states are my two biggest electoral issues.
@Jinchi: I think once there is a quorum, then if there is a filibuster, it should be based on those present and voting, not on the total number of senators.
@germy: Ah, Meghan’s husband. I’ve always been impressed with somebody who plagiarized Jonah Goldberg. Fauxy Pantload, if you will.
Steal from the best. If you can’t do that, then anyone will do.
Keeping all 41 of them there would be useful. I exaggerated what they would say, but the word “socialist” would certainly come up often and, while less effective than it used to be, It still does some work. Also the words bipartisan, government intrusion, and freedom.
While it would be nice to bring them out of their hidey-holes,I don’t have as much faith in the undecided vote as you do.
And that’s one of the things Manchin was considering supporting, right? That would certainly go a long way, although I’d still like to see it knocked down from 60 to 55 required votes as well.
@Mary G: That really is vile. But I’m glad that I went over to take a look – the tweet following it was quite informative. I had no idea our governor had taken it upon himself to help AZ and TX “secure their borders.” Trump Mini-Me through and through. Thank God FL has nothing more important to worry about.
That was insane, I was disappointed that Colbert didn’t shut him down pretty quickly. I mean, they caould edit it, and he could have told him “Hey knock it off you’ve made your point”. It seemed to me like Stewart was trying to act like Robin Williams, but he just made a fool of himself.
I can’t stop chuckling at the title of this post. When I should be working. One of the best, evah.
Lord Fartdaddy (Formerly, Mumphrey, Smedley Darlington Mingobat, et al.)
We shouldn’t even be talking about the filibuster. Republicans aren’t filibustering, they’re just saying they won’t vote to cut off debate. What we’re really talking about is cloture.
And the irony is that cloture was a rule the Senate put in place about 100 to shut down filibusters. Only there are no filibusters any more. If the Senate has to get 60 votes to hut down debate, there really should be some debate happening to shut down. I can’t see how it’s such a violation of norms and comity and such to insist that these guys holding things up get up off their asses and say something.
I will, with admiration.
@patrick II: I don’t have much faith in the undecided vote at all — you’ve got to be dumber than a bag of hair to be an undecided voter in 21st century America, IMO. That said, I do think the invisible filibuster we have now is an advantage for Republicans and their fat cat donors
@Lord Fartdaddy (Formerly, Mumphrey, Smedley Darlington Mingobat, et al.): Good point. The “invisible filibuster” is actually cloture.
Gee, I wonder whether Joe Manchin knows anyone who can propose laws or Senate rules changes.
I couldn’t bear to watch Jon Stewart. I thought it was a very unfunny joke but Colbert looked extremely uncomfortable and his efforts to rein Stewart in weren’t working, which made me wonder if it was a joke.
I think Colbert might want to reevaluate that friendship. A true friend wouldn’t do that to you in front of a gazillion viewers.
Anyway, I closed the YouTube halfway and watched Trevor Noah instead.
The only good thing that came out of that was Colbert asking Stewart, “How long have you been working for Ron Johnson?”
The other question I would have liked would be along the lines of “Interesting. So which virology lab did the 1918 flu virus leak from?”
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Interesting. Trying to reinvent himself as a comedian?
@JCJ: I feel that there has not been enough investigation of whether the Plague of Justinian was caused by an Ostrogothic lab leak.
Well, you know it was. Everyone knows that.
I saw that and was dismayed until i realized Stewart was making fun of the lab-leak conspiracies and their purveyors.
The ‘tell’ was Stewart, wild eyed, putting his face directly into the camera lens and ranting. Admittedly, Stewart waving scare quotes and rolling his eyes would have helped make his point.
@germy: I made my partner turn of Stewart. I guess my tone of voice was clear. Stewart relentlessly pushed the meme that it could not possibly be an accident that the Wuhan Institute for the Study of Coronavirus in Bats (my Paraphrase of Stewart) was proof. Colbert stated it could be that the institute is there because that’s where bat Coronavirus are. Stewart forcefully said that there are bats everywhere.
Stewart bought the blame China conspiracy. He seems to have never watched any Perry Mason or detective shows in addition to having an analytical cell left in his brain.
Sic the Rofer-Kraken on him. It was revolting to witness.
Probably. Ostrogoth comes from the Latin word that means “fails to follow best practices.”
No, more like he was trying to do that thing Williams would do, where he would take over the interview and refuse to respond to what the interviewer was asking him and instead do his own funny thing. The difference is, Williams was usually funny when he did it, while Stewart was definitely unfunny.
If he was making fun of it, he didn’t do a very good job, because I didn’t feel that he was making fun of it at all!
I did, too. But that’s clearly not what happened here. Democrats got more than 3/5ths on the 54-35 vote, and they still lost. 9 Republicans didn’t even feel the need to show up. It’s pretty clear that the Democrats need an absolute 60 to get past cloture.
Lord Fartdaddy (Formerly, Mumphrey, Smedley Darlington Mingobat, et al.)
@Jinchi:, yes. The vote could have been 59-0 and the Democrats still would have lost.
Nobody has time for his bi-partisan cosplay bullshyt.
No time at all for that foolishness.
The room has changed.
Steve in the ATL
@rikyrah: ain’t that the damn truth
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
I don’t agree. What they say will continuously outrage the left. That is good. It is harder to blame Democrats for not passing legislation when you can turn on the news and see 41 Republicans actively blocking and bashing the things you want. Right now, other than McConnell, the GOP just quietly kill things and the left blames the Dems for bills not moving forward.
Not sure why Manchin is saying he needs a win on the commission to defuse pressure from the “far left” on the filibuster. He alone is an absolute block on filibuster reform until at least 2023, and he’s perfectly able to ignore any amount of pressure from the left. I can’t recall any instance where he actually did give in.
@Betty Cracker: Thanks. I prefer outrage to basic reading, though. :)
What a cast of characters. Our entire political system is being held hostage by private equity and hedge fund squibs.
Tax the rich? Fuck ’em. Eat the rich, more like. Probably too fatty for my tastes, but I’m willing to make sacrifices.
Snarki, child of Loki
I really wish the Mattress Police would SWAT the No Labels morons.
@Chief Oshkosh: only to people who anger Putin and other members of the right wing.
@Fair Economist: at some point dozens of people are going to start literally camping outside his house.
I heard it was a lone Vandal.