The entire month of June is seemingly being set up by Biden and Schumer to convince Manchin, Sinema, and whichever other Democrats aren’t convinced on the need to reform the filibuster (Delaware’s Tom Carper is the only other firm “no”) that Republicans aren’t going to play nice and that if anything is going to get done, it’s going to have to be done by seriously reforming or ending the legislative filibuster. The Jan. 6 commission defeat should have done that trick, but some lessons take a long time to settle in with some people.
That’s why Schumer intends to bring the Equality Act to the floor in June, and because it’s Pride Month. The bill would extend all civil protections against discrimination to LGBTQ citizens, since 29 states still don’t extend those protections. In those 29 states, LGBTQ+ people can be denied housing, jobs, and public accommodation. Manchin is the only Democrat not co-sponsoring the bill.
Just like he’s the sole Democrat not signed onto the For the People Act. That’s the critical, democracy-saving voting rights and campaign finance reform bill that Schumer has also vowed to bring to the floor this month. At the moment, Senate Democrats are considering making changes to the bill to get Manchin’s support. If they can figure out exactly what it is Manchin has a problem with.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, adding, “We’ve had discussions with Sen. Manchin and they’re continuing.” Of those discussions, Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii added “I frankly don’t know, for example, where Joe is in terms of the actual provisions because if we’re going to get something done, we have to talk about the actual provisions,” she said. Which is a bit of a hint that Manchin hasn’t presented anyone with any concrete objections to specific provisions of the bill. Probably because he hasn’t read it.
That’s echoed in a comment from Sen. Dick Durbin: “You try to maintain a professional, civil relationship even if you disagree completely. […] I’m trying to get to a point with Joe Manchin, who is a friend, to understand where it is he wants to go.”
And yet, they’re all still catering to Manchin because that’s what they have to do because the Senate is a dysfunctional, broken institution. There’s a whole new round of infrastructure talks focused around making Manchin happy (or alternatively making Manchin work, but good luck there).
The man is sucking up all the excess energy of the entire city of Washington, D.C., right now, and undoubtedly loving it. That’s the implication from another of Manchin’s colleagues, Sen. Jon Tester. It’s pretty clear who he’s talking about here.
Those disgruntled fellow Democrats are going along with this game for now, but are getting restless. They’re looking to Biden and to Schumer to finally try another tactic—punishment. “Manchin is still getting everything he wants and unless you take something from him, he’s not going to move,” one Democratic source told Politico. This source says that Schumer is the person Manchin has the “strongest personal relationship” with and “whom he respects.”
At some point, and some point very soon, Biden and Schumer are going to have to have the showdown with him. Sinema should be fairly easy to flip, after all she’s got an election in a few years and even she can’t be deluded enough to think Republicans are going to help her out with that. Carper is, for now, enjoying the fact that no one is really paying attention to him and asking him about the filibuster. He won’t let himself be standing alone on it.