Centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has engaged in discussions with leading Republicans in the Senate about reforming the filibuster, The Post has confirmed.
The talks, first reported by The Hill, come as a group of Democrats have been meeting on filibuster changes as some progressives call for its complete elimination as they look to pass major priorities.
While Manchin does not support eliminating the filibuster completely, he’s floated less controversial changes in hopes of easing the process of getting votes on amendments or bills to the floor.
And Republicans seem receptive to hearing what the West Virginia Democrat — who has gained a reputation for not being afraid to buck party lines — has to say.
“Most Republicans are willing to entertain ideas from Manchin as long as those ideas don’t involve getting rid of the filibuster,” one Republican leadership aide said.
The Senate currently requires 60 lawmakers to support advancing most bills, with members in both parties having expressed frustrations at times of a handful of senators having the ability to stall major pieces of legislation.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said he believes there are changes that the GOP would be amenable to in terms of changing the rules of the upper chamber.
“Most of us would argue that the only thing that it takes to get the Senate working better is behavioral change. … But he is trying to come up with some fairly, I would say, creative ideas about the rules,” he told The Hill, adding that there is interest within the party in “trying to make the Senate functional.”
Manchin said he has been talking to members on both sides of the aisle in hopes of finding a consensus on ways to get more done without compromising the institution.
“I’ve been talking to Republicans and Democrats, how do we make the place work, so we can treat each other like human beings and try to get something accomplished and do the job we are supposed to do,” he told The Hill.
“Everyone should be looking at how we make the place work better. We’ve had good conversations. We’ll see if something comes out of it. It should be done bipartisan,” he added, calling for “any rules that would basically help this place work.”
Manchin told the publication that it’s unlikely that he would embrace a “nuclear option” to make changes to filibuster rules, noting he has never supported that approach in the past.
The group of Senate Democrats — led by Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — are discussing an array of options that could potentially change the rules surrounding debate and the amendment process.
Kaine said that the members are trying consider the prospective of the minority party while discussing potential proposals.
“If we’re in the minority, how would we feel about this? Can we live under this? Would this make the Senate work better for either party under a president of either party?” he told Politico.
“We’re looking at a number of complaints that Democrats and Republicans have had about the way the place operates to see if we can restore it to operating better and do it in a way that would facilitate passage of voting rights.”