Some Democrats read Schumer’s promise not to stand in the way of the democratic agenda as a sign that he is ready to change the filibuster: “I think that means we need to do filibuster reform,” he told Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).
Hirono is among the growing number of Democrats calling to destroy the Filibuster, but several other senators haven’t arrived yet. The reform camp is not dropping the issue, however: a Democratic senator said the issue came up in “one of three conversations on the floor,” adding that colleagues are using the caucus’ private email chain to push for one full discussion with 50 members about it.
While Schumer doesn’t show his hand, he told progressive groups last week that he plans to speak out on the voting law and expects Republicans to block it, according to a source in the call. He said he would then take the problem to his caucus and try to find a solution.
Schumer also encourages progressive and pro-democracy groups to use external pressure to pass the electoral law.
The majority leader plans to cast additional votes on other bills that will demonstrate the breadth of the GOP opposition. But if Schumer’s goal is to change Manchin’s mind, “it’s a poorly thought-out strategy,” said a second Senate Democrat.
“These bills bluntly don’t have 50 votes,” said the senator. “At some point, a guy named Joe from West Virginia will get sick week after week and be denounced as an obstacle to progress. And then the question is: what is he doing? He’s a pretty stubborn guy. “
Manchin said in an interview that he had not had a single specific conversation with Schumer about the filibuster and that he had “no idea” what his leader wanted personally. He added that Schumer hadn’t tried to get him to change his mind.
“We had a good relationship. I’m sure I frustrate him sometimes. But the bottom line is he’s very respectful,” said Manchin. “He wants to be able to do what he wants to do. And I say, “Chuck, go through the regular process then. Let’s try the process before we even talk about anything else. “
At the moment the process is in motion and will soon examine whether there is bipartisan will in the Senate to work on Biden’s agenda. A non-partisan group of 20 senators tries to prove that the chamber can work, a smaller group focuses on immigration and a third group of Democratic senators tries to reach an agreement on raising the minimum wage.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Said before Democrats have a conversation about the filibuster, they should first decide on laws that can be supported by the entire caucus and then turn to Republicans. Non-unanimous issues include minimum wage, voting rights, and background checks for gun buyers.
“If you can get 50 votes out of 50, it will be pretty reasonable who our caucus is,” Kaine said. “But if we can’t get Republican votes on sensible and popular things, filibuster reform has to be discussed.”
Although Schumer has so far managed to hold his caucus together on tough votes, he tends to resist his members when they have an internal argument. Last year, when Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Then the Senate’s minority whip, was fighting Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.) for the judicial committee gavel, Schumer refused to take sides and instead left it to the Senators to vote on the vote issue in a secret ballot.
Republicans tried to put pressure on Schumer early in Congress when Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell asked him to commit to maintaining the 60-vote threshold as part of the 50-50 Senate organizing resolution. But the Democrats rejected that proposal, and McConnell agreed to move on, but only after both Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Publicly reaffirmed their support for maintaining 60 votes for the passage of most of the bills.
Even so, Republicans remain suspicious of the new majority leader. They say he’s ruthless and if he can kill the filibuster he will.
“He’s made to seize power when he can. He wants you to work with him when we’re in power and keep the Senate stable,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), who opposed who teamed up with Schumer for immigration.
“And when he’s in power,” Graham continued, “he becomes quite a disruptive force.”