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Last Obstacle Standing 

Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) allegedly conservative, has mostly caved in on Biden's agenda.

Progressives now demand killing or gutting Senate filibuster rules. And if the filibuster falls, a Progressive minority will rule the roost.

Pressure Mounts 

Please note Kyrsten Sinema Defends Filibuster as Pressure Mounts From Progressives.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has emerged as the staunchest Democratic defender of the filibuster, brushing off fire from the outspoken progressive wing of her party as she tries to stake out a bipartisan reputation in a battleground state.

The Arizona lawmaker is one of just two Democratic senators who have publicly said they would block the party from eliminating the 60-vote requirement to advance most legislation, even as pressure builds from party activists eager to advance their agenda.

House Democrats have passed bills on voting rights, immigration and gun control, but all are expected to be blocked in the 50-50 Senate unless the rules are changed. Ms. Sinema said that is a problem with the senators, not the rules.

“The Senate has long been a graveyard for the priorities of the House,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (D., N.Y.).

Current Rules

Under current rules it takes 60 Senators to pass a bill. There are exceptions under budget reconciliation bills but not for minimum wages, gun control, voting rights, affirmative action, etc.

Minimum Wages 

Sinema is also not on board with a $15 minimum wage.

Sinema on $15 Minimum Wage

Progressives are also upset at her emphatic thumbs down of a House attempt to attach a minimum wage provision to the Covid legislation that recently passed.

She does support hiking the minimum wage to $12.15 an hour, which is the Arizona minimum. 

Readers may recall that was my likely compromise target and it's likely still in play. The Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25. 

Activists Protest 

Activitsts Outside Sinema

“When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules,” she said in an interview after two constituent events in Phoenix. “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”

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A "Talking Filibuster" 

Is Senator Joe Manchin bending on filibuster rules? 

Politico comments in Anti-Filibuster Liberals Face a Senate Math Problem.

Achieving lockstep unity among a diverse 50-member caucus to change the rules for a tradition-bound institution is going to be a challenge, to say the least. Just look at Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who made waves on Sunday by expressing openness to enforcing a "talking filibuster" that requires senators to remain on the floor objecting to a bill, making it more painful for the minority to demand a 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation. 

Manchin's comments elated progressives and forced the White House to reiterate its "preference" to preserve the filibuster despite a growing number of Democratic bills stalling in the upper chamber. But the gregarious centrist clarified on Tuesday that he continues to support an effective 60-vote requirement for most legislation.

The talking filibuster essentially would require the minority party to hold the floor while objecting to a bill, with a supermajority of 60 votes required for the majority party to overrule it. The majority party could also wait for exhaustion to kick in and, whenever minority senators could no longer hold the floor, overpower the filibuster with a simple 51-vote majority. 46 Senate Democrats supported it in 2011, including Manchin, though many senators' views have changed since then.

Manchin's support for a 60-vote threshold to continue, then, would eliminate the central reform envisioned by a classic talking filibuster. 

If you completely understand Manchin's position, please tell me because I sure don't know what it is.

US News reports Democrats Eye Filibuster Reform as Support for Elimination Lags

Progressives and a number of Democratic senators want to completely gut the filibuster, a stall tactic employed by the minority party that they see as the biggest hurdle to implementing Biden's agenda. 

Even as pressure builds to abolish it, there's currently not enough support within the Democratic Party to go "nuclear." While many haven't abandoned those plans, Democrats are also eyeing various reforms, including a return to the "talking filibuster," which requires the senator holding up a bill to remain physically present and speak on the Senate floor.

Still, the talking filibuster – depending on how it'd be structured – wouldn't ultimately do much for the majority since the 60-vote threshold would still exist and block their agenda. But Democrats see it as a way to at least force senators to put their opposition on display, while others believe it could possibly limit the number of filibusters because of a time-consuming rule.

The lead political cartoon is from the above article.

Tax Hikes

Axios reports Moderate Democrats Buck Biden Tax Hikes.

Biden's road to tax hikes may be steeper as Senator Joe Manchin is in play and so is the House.

Two moderate Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have drawn the most attention as potential obstacles to Biden's agenda. But the president also faces headwinds in the House of Representatives, where Speaker Pelosi can lose just three Democratic votes if Republicans are unified in opposition.

Over the past week, Axios has been interviewing moderate Democratic House members. Several are skeptical about Biden's tax-and-spend plans, and some were willing to say so on the record.

House Opposition

  • Gottheimer, who co-chairs the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said he won't even consider Biden's tax proposals unless the president agrees to reinstate the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction capped under former President Trump worth tens of billions every year. "Simply put," Gottheimer said, "no SALT, no dice."
  • Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) also told Axios: "I'm not voting for any changes in the tax code unless we reinstate SALT as part of the deal."

Curiously, those two House Democrats insist on tax cut for their states before they will vote for tax hikes on everyone.

This underscores the fragile nature of Biden's attempting to ram through legislation. 

Without a change to Filibuster rules, it may be a tough go for Biden. Heck, even a change to filibuster rules might not make for smooth sailing on everything. 

Right now, Sinema is a huge road block on minimum wages, tax hikes, the Filibuster, climate change and other Progressive priorities.

Can that last?