Jun 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Progressive dam about to break

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) arrives at a news conference with Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) arrives at a news conference with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on April 27. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House progressives are getting fed up with efforts to accommodate Republican senators — and Joe Manchin. Look for them to start demanding swift action — and threatening payback.

Why it matters: The White House is under growing pressure to accede to the left's demand to bust the filibuster. That rule effectively requires the support of 10 Republicans for most measures in this 50-50 Senate, rather than the simple majority that most Democrats want.

What we're hearing: Democrats believe they have a narrow window to change voting rules at the national level, to ensure they don’t get swept out of power due to Republican structural advantages.

  • Many Dems believe that this moment — when they have total control of Washington — is extremely tenuous and fleeting.

One of the clearest signs of this coming confrontation is a tweet this morning by Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), a leading House progressive, who criticized Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for announcing his opposition to a sweeping voting-rights bill passed by the House in March.

  • Jones tweeted: "Manchin’s op-ed might as well be titled, 'Why I’ll vote to preserve Jim Crow.'"
  • At the funeral in 2020 for Rep. John Lewis, the civil-rights icon, former President Obama tied the filibuster to segregation, calling it a "Jim Crow relic."

Manchin wrote in today's Charleston Gazette-Mail that he'll vote against the voting-rights bill, the For the People Act — numbered H.R. 1, as a sign 0f its importance to Speaker Pelosi.

  • Manchin said: "I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster."

Between the lines: For a prominent Democrat to directly link Manchin to some of the most odious and racist laws in American history represents a new stage of the intra-party battle over voting rights.

  • Many Democrats feel that if they fail to pass H.R. 1 before November 2022 they could be locked out of power for years.

One top Democrat told me: "Progressives are getting restless. I don't think they're going to revolt. I don't think there's anything to revolt to."

  • Instead, you’re going to see progressives beseeching Biden to turn his bully pulpit against the most prominent Democratic senators standing in the way of filibuster reform — Joe Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
  • But they can't change the math: Progressives can't end the filibuster without Manchin — and neither can Biden.
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