September 26, 2021

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Live politics updates: Manchin open to reforming filibuster, requiring senators to stay on floor and talk – USA TODAY

5 min read

Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate West Virginia Democrat whose vote has become critical in the evenly divided Senate, expressed some openness to reforming the filibuster on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday.

“If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk, I’m willing to look at any way we can. But I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority,” Manchin said.

The moderate Democrat has repeatedly said he will not vote to abolish the filibuster, a procedural quirk of the Senate that requires at least 60 senators to vote to end debate on any legislation before it can be voted on. The filibuster has been used increasingly over the past few decades as the nation’s two increasingly polarized parties have been unable to compromise on most major policy questions.

During the interview, Manchin expressed openness to the idea of implementing a “talking filibuster,” where any senator would be able to halt proceedings if they were physically present on the floor of the Senate. Once the senator stopped speaking, a simple majority vote would be able to end debate.

“And now if you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk, I’m willing to look at any way we can,” Manchin said of potential reforms to the filibuster. Other moderate Democratic senators who have also expressed openness to a similar reform include Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Manchin again stressed that he remains opposed to abolishing the filibuster, which he sees as promoting bipartisan cooperation. “Can you imagine not having to sit down, where there’s no reason for you to sit down with your colleagues on both sides and have their input?” the senator asked.

“I’ve been in the minority. I’ve been in the majority. And I can tell you the respect I have on both sides when I’ve been there should be ‘I’ve got something to say, listen to me,’ and I want that to happen,” Manchin said.

– Matthew Brown

Defense Secretary Austin: US will ‘strike if that’s what we think we need to do’

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was firm in his support for U.S. military intervention in situations the military believes such strikes are necessary during a discussion Sunday of recent retaliatory strikes in Iraq after U.S. and Iraqi forces were attacked by rockets.

“We want to make sure that again, we understand who’s responsible for this. The message to those who would carry out such an attack is you know expect us to do what’s necessary to defend ourselves,” Austin said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

While Austin said the Pentagon and Iraqi investigators were still gathering intelligence on who was responsible for the strikes, the U.S. would not hold back military force if American troops were endangered.

“We’ll strike if that’s what we think we need to do at a time and place of our own choosing. We demand the right to protect our troops,” Austin emphasized.

Austin, the first Black defense secretary to preside over the armed forces, has highlighted combatting extremism in the military and repositioning the military to combat national security threats like cyberwarfare, climate change and the rise of China as top concerns.

“China’s been busy modernizing its military and developing capabilities, and trying to close the competitive edge that we’ve always enjoyed,” Austin said. “They’ve also been very aggressive in the region. In some cases, they’ve been coercive and some of that coercion has been directed against our allies, and our allies are very important to us.” 

– Matthew Brown

Sens. Ossoff and Warnock credit Georgia voters for $1.9T relief package

Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock – two Democrats elected in Jan. 5 runoffs in what was once considered a Republican stronghold – held a press conference hours after the Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in a 50-49 vote that fell along party lines. 

Both senators made it clear that the package would likely have never come to pass without their upset victories. 

“This is the most significant economic relief package for working- and middle-class families in American history,” Ossoff told reporters after the vote. “We will crush COVID-19, recover economically, safely re-open our schools, and get our daily lives back – and we’ll do it thanks to Georgia voters.”

Warnock agreed. 

“There is no question that the people of Georgia deserve a great deal of credit for what happened here today,” he said. “We simply would not be here had they not stood up in such a profound way in this historic election.” 

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

More:Some House progressives aren’t happy with Senate version of COVID relief package. Here’s what changed.

‘One more giant step forward’: President Biden praises passage of COVID plan

President Joe Biden praised the Senate’s passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on Saturday, calling it “one more giant step forward” on promises he made on the campaign trail to send aid to millions of Americans suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on the promise help is on the way,” he said of his package that includes $1,400 relief checks, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, and billions of dollars for vaccine development and distribution.

“The bottom line is this: this plan puts us on a path to beating this virus,” he said.

Biden made an indirect reference to his predecessor President Donald Trump, saying passing the relief plan would show how he was “going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people.”

He congratulated Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for shepherding the bill through the Senate. The chamber worked for more than 27 straight hours as it made its final deliberations on the package.

“I’ve never seen anyone work as skillfully, as ably, as patiently with determination to deliver such a consequential piece of legislation,” Biden said.

The president had been in touch with several Democratic senators throughout the process.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a longtime Biden confidante, told reporters Saturday morning he had spoken to Biden, who had told him he was “really glad” the bill passed. The president had been in touch with Schumer with “some frequency” through the whole process, Coons said.

– Nicholas Wu and Joey Garrison

‘Dinner table’ politics:Why Joe Biden ditched bipartisan dealmaking to pass his COVID-19 relief bill

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