Manchin Signals He Won’t Support Nuking Filibuster for Debt Limit

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) signaled Wednesday that he will not support carving out an exception to the filibuster for the debt limit, meaning Democrats don’t have enough votes to employ the so-called nuclear option.

“I’ve been very, very clear where I stand on the filibuster. I don’t have to repeat that. I think I’ve been very clear. Nothing’s changed,” Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Some Democrats want to nuke the filibuster for the debt ceiling because they’re refusing to use reconciliation to address it and Republicans oppose their current plans on the limit.

President Joe Biden said late Tuesday that there’s a “real possibility” Democrats in the Senate invoke the option, which would lower the voting threshold from 60 to a simple majority.

But Democrats only hold 50 seats in the upper chamber. That means they can’t afford a single “no” vote from a Democrat. With Manchin’s newest comments, reinforcing his continued opposition to altering the filibuster, hopes of carving out an exception are doomed.

“A carve-out always depends on whether the votes are there,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told reporters shortly before Manchin spoke, adding that they should speak to Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who has also said she will not support changing or removing the filibuster.

The United States faces a recession if the debt ceiling isn’t raised or suspended by Oct. 18, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned this week. Democrats are so far refusing to fold it into a budget package they hope to pass through reconciliation, which enables them to ram it through Congress with no Republican votes. Even if they turn to reconciliation, Republicans can jam up the process in the Senate. And with so-called progressive and moderate Democrats, including Manchin, at loggerheads on the package, there’s no guarantee Democrats can whip up enough support for it.

The House of Representatives last week passed a bill that would suspend the debt limit until December 2022. The Senate was scheduled to hold a procedural vote on it on Wednesday afternoon. But Republicans planned to filibuster it. Once the filibuster is entered, 60 votes would be needed to advance the legislation.

Few Republicans have indicated an openness to vote for the bill.

By Zachary Stieber

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