Manchin quietly discusses Senate rules changes with Republicans

( Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has often drawn the ire of many of his liberal colleagues in the Senate.

Now, sources are saying the moderate senator from West Virginia has had direct conversations with his Republicans colleagues on potentially making small changes to operational rules in the upper chamber.

This all comes as some Democrats are pushing for the Senate to revise its filibuster rule, which requires 60 members vote in favor of a measure in order for it to pass. Only using budget reconciliation can circumvent that rule, though that is only able to be used in limited terms.

At the same time liberals are doing this, sources have told media outlet The Hill that Manchin has reached out to leadership in the GOP to discuss potential ideas he has about easing the process of having bills and votes come to the Senate floor.

John Thune from South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, recently commented on the situation:

“Most of us would argue that the only thing that it takes to get the Senate working better is behavioral change … But he is trying to come up with some fairly, I would say, creative ideas about the rules.”

Thune confirmed that Manchin has had discussions with several GOP senators, adding there was a “considerable amount of interest in trying to make the Senate functional.”

Another senator, Roy Blunt of Missouri, confirmed to The Hill that he spoke with Manchin about this issue. He said:

“You know I had a lot of discussions with [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer on this topic when he was the ranking member on Rules and I was the chairman, we could re-open that discussion.”

For his part, Manchin has stood his ground in saying he is against abolishing the filibuster rule. He is apparently, however, open to some smaller changes that would ease the process of having votes on bills or amendments get to the Senate floor.

The West Virginia senator has said that he’s currently having talks about just this. He said:

“I’ve been talking to Republicans and Democrats, how do we make the place work, so we can treat each other like human beings and try to get something accomplished and do the job we are supposed to do.”

He said the discussions have revolved around “any rules that would basically help this place work.”

At the same time Manchin is having these discussions, other Democrats in the Senate are trying to craft proposals for rule changes that could break the current stalemate on issues such as elections and voting rights, which to this point Republican senators have filibustered.

Those efforts are being led by Jon Tester of Montana and Tim Kaine of Virginia, who both said Manchin’s discussions are a completely different effort. They added that they hadn’t asked Manchin to open up a line of communication with Republicans on the issue.

As Tester commented:

“Joe will be Joe … We don’t control anybody around here.”