Manchin warns against overuse of budget tool Democrats hope to use to pass Biden’s agenda

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin made his opposition to frequent use of the budget reconciliation process clear Wednesday evening in a Washington Post op-ed, sending a warning to Democrats who hope to use it to pass President Joe Biden’s legislative priorities.

“If the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping, partisan legislation that changes the direction of our nation every time there is a change in political control. The consequences will be profound — our nation may never see stable governing again,” the West Virginia lawmaker wrote.

His message comes after the Senate parliamentarian ruled earlier this week that Democrats may amend the budget resolution they used for their Covid-19 relief bill and attach another set of reconciliation instructions to it, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The ruling was a key step for Democrats as they weigh their options for moving infrastructure legislation, potentially giving them a route to pass new legislation without Republican votes. But the reconciliation process still requires a simple majority, a threshold Democrats can’t reach without Manchin’s vote.

“I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate. How is that good for the future of this nation? Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues,” Manchin wrote.

“Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats.”

Democrats had used the procedural tool to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan last month, allowing lawmakers to bypass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold typically required for breaking filibusters and moving legislation forward.

The reconciliation process was set up as part of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act to make it faster and easier to pass legislation related to spending, taxes and debt, because debate on the bills is limited to 20 hours and can be passed on a simple majority vote.

But working legislation through regular order in the Senate, Manchin maintained, is the best governing process that “prevents drastic swings in federal policymaking.”

“We will not solve our nation’s problems in one Congress if we seek only partisan solutions. Instead of fixating on eliminating the filibuster or shortcutting the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it is time we do our jobs.”