Thursday, March 4, 2021

Progressives form PAC to challenge Manchin, Sinema over filibuster support

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A group of prominent progressives has launched a Political Action Committee with the goal of ousting the two Democrats in the Senate who oppose ending the legislative filibuster.

The filibuster is a Senate rule requiring 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote.

The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, though Vice President Kamala Harris has a tie-breaking vote. Still, 51 votes are not enough under current rules to break through the filibuster.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.) have both publicly pledged that they would maintain their opposition to eliminating the rule, meaning that progressive legislative goals will likely face a tougher fate in the upper house of Congress.

As a result, Saikat Chakrabarti, Corbin Trent and Zack Exley have launched No Excuses PAC, which has already begun searching for candidates to challenge the two incumbent Democrats when they are up for re-election in 2024.

Chakrabarti and Trent are former aides to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), with the former serving as her chief of staff. Exley, meanwhile is an alumnus of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential campaign.

Speaking to Politico, the trio cited Manchin and Sinema’s opposition to eliminating the filibuster as their main motivation to find strong enough progressive challengers in their states.

“Finding and training good candidates takes time. Doing that in two years when you already need a campaign started is very hard,” Chakrabarti told the outlet.

Progressives have argued that in a 50-50 Senate, the only way to push Democratic legislative priorities through would be to abolish the filibuster.

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While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have said that nothing is off the table, they have not committed either way.

The three progressive politicos believe that Manchin and Sinema’s opposition to overturning the Senate rule would generate interest in supporting challenges from inside the party.

That interest, Exley explained, could bring in millions in political fundraising.

“If it comes down to an actual vote on modifying the filibuster and it just won’t pass because of these two, then people are going to be so angry that there will be that national base of donors who really, really love to donate to a campaign to unseat these guys. It won’t be any problem to raise many, many millions of dollars in that scenario.”

The PAC is also considering getting involved in the open Senate races taking place in Pennsylvania and Ohio in 2022, as well as a possible primary challenge against Schumer.

“I don’t know if it’s necessary, it will come down to what [Schumer] actually does [on the filibuster]. It’s an option that we should never throw out. It’s one of the tools in the chest of holding Democrats accountable,” Chakrabarti said.

Neither of the two senators responded to Politico’s request for comment. They did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment either.

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