WASHINGTON — Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat who has often balked at efforts to alter Senate rules to allow his party to muscle through its agenda over Republican opposition, signaled a willingness on Sunday to make changes to the filibuster and support future party-line votes if bipartisan negotiations proved unsuccessful.
Mr. Manchin, whose role as perhaps the most centrist Democrat in an evenly divided Senate gives him outsize influence, remained adamant on Sunday that he would not vote to outright abolish the 60-vote supermajority threshold, which requires Democrats to attract the support of 10 Republicans to pass most legislation.
But he reiterated that he would support altering the rules of the practice and potentially establishing a “talking filibuster” — requiring any senator objecting to ending debate to remain on the floor and speak for the entire time. That could make filibusters far less frequent, and give Democrats far more opportunities to pass legislation on party-line votes, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaker.
“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,” Mr. Manchin said of the filibuster on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.”
pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus in a party-line vote on Saturday, and said he would be open to more such votes in the future.
His comments were also the latest signal that Democrats were already beginning to build on the lessons of wrangling Mr. Biden’s first major legislative initiative past united Republican opposition as they turn to more politically freighted ambitions. Several Democrats are pushing for a future where legislation could follow a more aggressive and partisan pattern set by the stimulus: If bipartisan talks do not translate into Republican votes, Democrats push ahead on the policies they prefer.
The sweeping relief package, which the House is expected to take up early this week after the Senate passed the measure 50 to 49 on Saturday, is the first pandemic aid bill set to become law without any Republican votes.
It will provide for up to $1,400 in direct payments to individuals, a $300 weekly federal unemployment supplement through Labor Day and billions of dollars for vaccine distribution, schools, small businesses and other institutions. It also includes a significant investment in safety net spending as part of the largest antipoverty effort in a generation.
Democrats, unwilling to compromise on the size and scope of the package after what they see as grave miscalculations during the Great Recession, pursued a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation as a way to bypass the filibuster and Republican opposition.