MSNBC host and former presidential candidate Al Sharpton told Politico in an interview that Sent. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are “in effect, supporting racism” if they do not join progressive efforts to end the modern day filibuster - as Democrats look to push partisan election reform legislation through the Senate known as S.1.
“The pressure that we are going to put on Sinema and Manchin is calling [the filibuster] racist and saying that they are, in effect, supporting racism,” Sharpton said. “Why would they be wedded to something that has those results? Their voters need to know that.”
Under current Senate rules, 60 votes are required to end a filibuster, which typically leads to the passage of whatever legislation is being considered as it must have bi-partisan support in order to achieve the 60-vote threshold.
Some Democrats, including Manchin, have proposed reforming the filibuster and requiring participants to physically stand on the floor and talk in order to delay voting, while other Democrats want to remove the filibuster altogether.
Because the Democrats only hold 50 seats in the Senate, they are unable to push through President Biden’s partisan agenda thanks to the filibuster.
The idea that the filibuster supports racism comes from the belief that the filibuster originated to be used to stall civil rights legislation in the 1900s. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) debunked this theory on the Senate floor on Tuesday as “fake history,” citing the fact that the original Senate filibuster was “over a bridge across the Potomac River.”
Manchin and Sinema have previously voiced their support for the filibuster, with Manchin previously saying he would “never” stop supporting it and Sinema previously declaring she is not open to “changing her mind” on the issue - neither of which made Sharpton happy.
“Many of us, and certainly all of us in the civil rights leadership, are committed to policies and laws and causes, not to people's political careers. We're not into that. We want to change the country,” Sharpton said in the interview with Politico. “And if there is not feasible evidence that we're doing that, it is not in our concern to be aggressively involved.”
During a news conference Wednesday, Senate Republicans said they will block the voting reform bill with any means necessary, but predicted that Democrats will try to move the goalposts with filibuster reform.
On Thursday, President Biden announced at his first press conference that he supports reforming the filibuster to a "talking filibuster," saying he wants to "get things done."