Good luck with that. In reality, the probability of repealing the filibuster in a 50/50 Senate under Democratic control was likely low anyway, but it’s not non-zero now either. One has to wonder whether Mitch McConnell got some quiet agreement in another form to make this announcement late last night:
“Today two Democratic Senators publicly confirmed they will not vote to end the legislative filibuster. They agree with President Biden’s and my view that no Senate majority should destroy the right of future minorities of both parties to help shape legislation.
“The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate’s last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001. With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent.”
Chuck Schumer’s spokesman was quick to crow about it:
Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer, said Democrats were “glad Senator McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand.”
“We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people,” he said.
This reference to “big, bold things” is a signal to McConnell that Schumer plans to use the filibuster as leverage over the next two years. Either Republicans refrain from blocking Democrats’ big-spending wish list, or Schumer will break out the rule change and wipe out the minority’s one tool to force compromise. With both Sinema and Manchin declaring their support to their red-state constituents for keeping the filibuster, though, it’s a mostly empty threat.
And if you follow Manchin’s Twitter feed, even the “big, bold things” agenda might be a bit of a bluff:
One retweet just killed 75% of the Democrats’ policy agenda pic.twitter.com/RDKkxdJ1St
— Colin Mortimer 🌐 (@colinmort) January 26, 2021
Don’t get too excited by this RT, I argued:
Let's not kid ourselves — he also killed 75% of the GOP's these days. https://t.co/YpF6MbdX0A
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) January 26, 2021
Be that as it may, Manchin might not allow Schumer to get to 50 votes on “big, bold things” if he seizes on fiscal conservatism at this moment. The filibuster would be moot if Manchin intends to recast himself as a deficit hawk. Even Kamala Harris won’t do him any good as a tiebreaker if Schumer can’t get to a tie.
What does that say about Manchin’s future in the Democratic caucus? At one time, a commitment to fiscal restraint and a focus on debt would make someone a Republican, but come on man. Still, one has to wonder whether Manchin and McConnell cut some sort of agreement for a flip across the aisle in the event Schumer tries his filibuster ploy, and whether the RT last night was a warning to Schumer about that very possibility. At the very least, Schumer has to be wondering about that possibility too, which would send him instantly back to Minority Leader status.