Progressive Democrats who want the Senate to get rid of the filibuster so they can get some of their top priorities through Congress have repeatedly faced opposition from Sen. Joe Machin. The moderate West Virginia Democrat holds a lot of sway in the Senate these days considering his vote is critical and he has been one of the strongest voices supporting the filibuster, which effectively requires 60 votes to end debate on a bill and proceed to vote. On Sunday, Manchin seemed willing to give on that a bit saying that while he is a staunch supporter of the filibuster he is still open to reforming the way it works.
“If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk, I’m willing to look at any way we can. But I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority,” Manchin said on NBC’s Meet the Press. The senator expressed much the same sentiment on Fox News Sunday, lamenting that it had become too easy to invoke the filibuster. “It really should be painful and we’ve made it more comfortable over the years,” he said. “Maybe it has to be more painful, maybe you have to stand there. There’s things we can talk about.”
Manchin’s words shouldn’t be taken as a hint that he could move on the concept of the filibuster in general though. “I’d make it harder to get rid of the filibuster, I’m supporting the filibuster, I’m going to continue to support the filibuster,” Manchin also said on Fox News Sunday. “I think it defines who we are as a Senate. I’ll make it harder to get rid of it, but it should be painful if you want to use it.” As far as Manchin sees it, making the filibuster more difficult to use could encourage compromise between Republicans and Democrats. “My Republican friends are my friends they’re not my enemies,” he said. “And my Democrats are my colleagues, they’re not my enemies either that’s my caucus. Together we’ve got to make this place work and it should be hard to invoke pain. It should be painful for us, don’t make it painful for the other side.”
Even as he expressed support for the filibuster in general, Manchin also said there could exceptions. He did not rule out, for example, passing a voting rights bill with a simple majority. But, Manchin warned, he wouldn’t support the move unless he’s certain Republicans have been given a fair shot to speak their mind and there’s been an effort to compromise. “I’m not willing to go into reconciliation until we at least get bipartisanship or get working together or allow the Senate to do its job,” Manchin said.