How Joe Manchin can fix the filibuster

But there is a half measure available that Manchin should consider as an alternative to abolition: weakening the filibuster by taking its threshold to 55 votes instead of 60.

As a practical matter a 55-vote threshold puts a lot of things that the West Virginia senator favors more in play β€” from the gun-control measure he hashed out with Pat Toomey in the Obama years to infrastructure spending and the Jan. 6 commission in this presidency β€” while still throwing up a strong impediment to ideological legislating. It gives the kind of Republicans he’s most inclined to work with more power in the Senate, without creating a situation where activists can expect moderate Democrats to constantly join 51-49 votes. It adapts the filibuster in a reasonable way to our age of heightened polarization, maintaining protections for the minority, while making some deals that used to be possible available again.

Then more broadly, beyond just the Senate rules, the idea of 55 percent as a threshold for dramatic reforms sets a plausible target for both parties to hit, as they try to break out of gridlock and create more durable majorities.