The election is over, it’s been over for a while now, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on January 20th at noon. Unless thousands of votes mysteriously appear in Georgia, Democrats will hold control of the House, the Senate – with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tie breaker – and the White House.
Through executive action, activist judges, and ominous spending packages, the Biden administration will be the most progressive since FDR. But all is not lost. President Trump squeaked three Supreme Court justices onto the bench in four short years, giving us Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett with a 5/6 majority. While we cannot avoid unilateral moves which have, through precedent, been unconstitutionally bestowed to the President, Republicans have an ace in the hole, and there’s a D next to his name.
Coming from the deep red state of West Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin, is quite the political anomaly. Even though Trump won the state with a 40% margin in both 2016 and 2020, Senator Manchin has been representing the state since 2010, even winning his most recent reelection bid by 3% in 2018.
In a Senate of 53 Republicans, Manchin was rated the 47th most conservative senator by Gov Track, ranking more right wing than Sen. Susan Collins [R-ME], Sen. Richard Shelby [R-AL], and Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R-AK]. He’s far from a progressive, describing himself as a centrist.
While Manchin is still a Democrat with 90’s liberal values, he has come out in opposition of radical changes to American institutions and has staunchly supported a Senate procedural rule designed to prevent a single party from forcing through legislation with a slim majority: the Filibuster.
As of right now, the Senate is split 50/50. In the event of a tie, the Vice President is given the deciding vote, as per the Constitution. In order to advance most bills to the floor, 60 Senators must vote to break debate, also known as Cloture. Until 60 Senators, who would presumably support the bill, vote to end debate, legislation can not be voted on and will not proceed.
The filibuster has been used by both parties since the 1850’s to block bills lacking overwhelming support. It’s one of the reasons why Congress rarely passes major legal changes.
Senate rules, however, are decided on by a 50%+1 majority, meaning if Senate Democrats wanted to remove the Filibuster to ram through radical legislation, they now technically have enough Democrats to do so, and the desire. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said “nothing is off the table” when asked back in August whether Democrats would move to ditch the filibuster if they regained the Senate.
With 50 Democrats and Harris as VP, the Filibuster was as good as gone and the far left agenda would go unchecked for two years… or so they thought.
Senator Joe Manchin, our very moderate Democrat from the Republican saturated West Virginia strongly stated his disapproval of efforts to end the filibuster in an interview immediacy following Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
“I commit to you tonight, and I commit to all of your viewers and everyone else that’s watching. I want to allay those fears, I want to rest those fears for you right now because when they talk about whether it be packing the courts, or ending the filibuster, I will not vote to do that,” Manchin said. “I will not vote to pack the courts … and I will not vote to end the filibuster.”
Democrats dream of also expanding the Supreme Court by creating and filling seats with left-friendly justices and offset the influence of Justices appointed by Trump, to green light unconstitutional executive actions done by Biden, also dies with Manchin in office.
He’s denounced efforts like the Green New Deal and movements by Democrats towards socialism, saying “that’s not who we are,” often butting heads with new progressive members of the party.
Senate Democrats, through measures like budget reconciliation, can still push through measures like tax increases, and other polices directly related to spending, revenue, or debt, with a simple majority. Peeling two or three members of the other party for a controversial bill is difficult enough, but getting 10 Republicans to side with Democrats on Medicare-for-all, or a national gun ban would be nearly impossible. Democrats will still have the power to pass spending related economic changes.
When it comes to fundamentally changing American institutions and swaying the balance of power so far left Republicans lose any hope of being competitive in future elections – ending the filibuster, expanding the Supreme Court, adding more Democratic states – Manchin, if he keeps his promises, will block their efforts from within.
Manchin is the most powerful Senator starting on January 20th. The nation’s eyes will glued to his every move. And, hopefully, he’ll stand as the last bulwark against the leftist tidal wave.