Speaking on a Zoom call with members of the nonpartisan No Labels, a major donor network, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin suggested that the donors could help convince Republican Senators support a January 6th commission to help him fend off efforts to reform the filibuster.
In a recording of the call obtained by The Intercept, Manchin approached–but did not cross–Congressional ethics lines about sitting members dealing with political donors. At one point, Manchin suggested that those on the call “who might be working with [retiring Republican Missouri Senator Roy Blunt] in his next life” could convince Blunt to vote in favor of the commission.
There are laws against offering members of Congress future employment if they vote in favor of specific legislation–which Manchin seems to be implying–but because Manchin says “[work] with” instead of “hiring,” the statement is legal.
Manchin also stayed on call as members openly talked about spending priorities for the group. Election law prohibits politicians from coordinating with special interest groups, but Manchin hearing No Labels’ plans doesn’t violate the law.
During the call, Manchin also contradicted his public statements resisting anytype of filibuster reform, particularly if Republicans don’t join in supporting a January 6th commission. Manchin told the donor group that he’s considering a proposal to reduce the number of Senators needed to break a filibuster to 55 from 60, as well as a change that would require the minority to vote to uphold the filibuster, rather than having 60 Senators vote to break it.
“I looked back … when it went from 67 votes to 60 votes, and also what was happening, what made them think that it needed to change. So I’m open to looking at it, I’m just not open to getting rid of the filibuster, that’s all,” he said.