COMPASS: COVID legislation passes, Manchin equivocates on filibuster

CPI Staff — Monday, March 8, 2021

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill. The National Guard has announced as many as 2,200 troops will stay in Washington for another two months to protect the Capitol from very dangerous online threats, like the one that sent the House home on Wednesday last week. According to Nancy Pelosi, House members were in peril from a deadly insurrection being planned for March 4.

If you didn’t hear about it, don’t be surprised. Absolutely nothing happened.

That’s because, according to the FBI, there was no real threat. While acknowledging the presence of “chatter” on the internet, the agency confirmed to the Washington Post on March 3 they had no “indication of violence or a specific, credible plot at this time.”

But the House fled in theatrical terror anyway. Anything to keep the specter of looming assault on the horizon. It’s a useful tool for crushing your political opponents in fits of pearl clutching and self-righteousness, and not having to make any excuses for it.

The Senate stayed in session and kept working, by the way, which should tell you how non-threatening this threat was. The Senate will take almost any excuse to get out of town, but even Chuck Schumer couldn’t bring himself to cower in front of a handful of anonymous internet trolls.

So the Senate stayed in town to pass Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID legislation. The modified package does not contain the $15 minimum wage increase, which was offered as an amendment and defeated by the votes of eight Democrat senators. The House will take up and pass the Senate’s version, likely this week, and it will head to the White House for signature.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made news last week squirming on the Senate floor over the COVID bill. Manchin had previously said he would not vote for the bill unless at least one Republican crossed over to support it. After a marathon 10 hours of negotiations, however, Manchin submitted to his leadership and dutifully supported the bill — which no Republican supported. It passed 50 to 49.

The next day, Manchin threw yet another one of his prior commitments in flux, telling Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that he thinks the filibuster should “be painful if you want to use it.”

Keep in mind that Manchin — along with Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona — are who Senate Republicans have expected will save them from an assault on the legislative filibuster.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had the opportunity to use the Senate’s organizing resolution — a power-sharing agreement used in a 50-50 Senate — to lock in at least one provision which would have made nuking the filibuster a painful process for Democrats. But he chose not to, instead pointing to commitments from Sinema and Manchin to stand in the breach.

But Sen. Manchin, as anyone who has observed him for any length of time is aware, consistently collapses like a sopping wet noodle in response to pressures. This is a known feature of how he does the job. Republicans putting their eggs in the Manchin basket was an obvious tactical error from the beginning.

Less is known about how Sen. Sinema responds in these situations. She did join seven other Democrats in voting against the minimum wage, much to the chagrin of her progressive backers.

But the legislative filibuster is in play, as Democrats have made quite clear, and Senate Republicans have done precious little to protect the one procedural vehicle that empowers minority voices, nascent causes, and alternative points of view.

The Latest From Around the Conservative Movement…

 

One More Thing…

The American Accountability Foundation — a brainchild of CPI board member Tom Jones — has issued a blistering background report on Biden’s nominee to be the Associate Attorney General for Civil Rights. According to Jones, Kristen Clarke organized a conference to defend convicted cop-killer Abu-Jamal, which featured noted anti-Semite Nation of Islam Minister Conrad Muhammad.

Clarke is also under fire for previous statements suggesting black people are genetically superior to white people. Her nomination is awaiting consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.