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Manchin's firm stance on filibuster, reconciliation threatens ambitious Biden agenda

Without his backing, Biden might need to trim, leave some legislative attempts.

Moderate Democrat Joe Manchin reaffirmed that he won't back suggested changes into the Senate filibuster rule or service"shortcutting the legislative process through funding reconciliation," dealing a possible setback to President Joe Biden's schedule.

Manchin, who has been trumpeting the need for bipartisanship for months,'' said in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday evening that he will not support any attempt to overturn the rule that requires 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate.

From the evenly divided Senate, overturning the principle would require the aid of all Democrats. Without Manchin's backing, Biden might need to cut some of his toughest legislative attempts or abandon them entirely.

Chief among Biden's priorities are just two multi-trillion dollar infrastructure suggestions and a bill that would execute major inflation reforms.

"There's a real long laundry list of things that I think many Democrats would like to get though the House and the Senate," explained Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball at the UVA Center for Politics. "For Democrats on particular things they are stuck."

Democrats currently hold the House and Senate from razor-thin margins, which Kondik said could easily slide during the 2022 midterm elections.

"If I had been in the majority in the House and the Senate I would have a look at this and say'boy if we're going to act on matters we need to act today.'"

"If the filibuster is allowed to stay as a partisan weapon which Sen. (Mitch) McConnell may use to keep his gridlock and obstruction, then Democrats will be blamed for violating their claims on voting rights, increasing the minimum wage, immigration reform, gun safety and much more," Zupnick said.

The most pressing roadblock comes as Biden looks to proceed forward on the initial phase of the $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. The proposal would provide billions to expand broadband internet, replace lead pipes, fix bridges and highways. Businesses and large corporations would observe a bump in their own tax rate to finance it.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to combat the Biden proposal"every step along the way" during a media conference at Kentucky. He's called the package a"Trojan horse" for Democratic priorities unrelated to infrastructure, and said he does not think it'll get support among his summit, making sixty votes appear all but impossible.

Majority Leader Schumer was dealt an early triumph on Biden's infrastructure proposal this week when the Senate parliamentarian ruled he could utilize budget reconciliation, a procedural tool which allows him to skip the 60-vote threshold, to transfer the bill.

Democrats made use of this tool after this season to pass Biden's $2 trillion COVID-19 relief charge down strict party lines in March. Schumer hasn't yet said whether he intends to use it .

Even if he tries, he would want the support of 50 Senate Democrats. It is not clear he has it.

Manchin said, in a radio interview on Monday, that he opposes the Biden tax increase and does not favor use of reconciliation to maneuver the larger proposal.

In his Washington Post op-ed,'' Manchin said he had been"alarmed" by the usage of the procedure to snake around the 60-vote threshold.

"I just don't think budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate," Manchin wrote.

"Republicans, but have a duty to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats," he continued.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a near Biden ally, set the point early on Wednesday for a likely compromise.

"It's more likely that we'll have a package that is not paid for" and that is"less robust", Coons said during a Punchbowl News forum.

Biden has other priorities -- such as voting rights -- that are also exacerbated with Manchin's resolve on the filibuster rule. Since voting reform likely would not be eligible under reconciliation, Democrats will have no option except to try to cobble together 60 votes.

If they can not, then Kondik indicates the 2 trillion COVID bill passed earlier this season might end up being Biden's signature legislative achievement despite unified government management.

"It's reasonable to wonder is this going to be the big piece of legislation that comes out of Biden's first couple of years," Kondik explained. "And maybe it is, maybe that is the high point."

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