Manchin’s message leaves a nagging question: what happens if he brokers a deal with all seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump, and perhaps also Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) (who voted for the Jan. 6 commission) as an eighth, but he can’t find a ninth and tenth Republican to overcome a filibuster?
It is too soon to know. With no change to filibuster procedures, that risks leaving electoral reform that meets Manchin’s test of “both Democrats and Republicans coming together” vetoed by a couple of votes. It would mean even a bill essential to protect the republic from authoritarian efforts to repudiate honest elections would fail because a filibuster threshold that once was 67 votes, and now is 60 votes, can’t be revised again to 57 or 58 votes.
Manchin is understandably reluctant to tinker with the filibuster, knowing the shoe sooner or later will be on the other foot. But a small tweak might be necessary to achieve his own priority of bipartisan democracy preservation.