Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives and are evenly divided in the Senate with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any ties.
Though the Democratic majority was welcomed by the party's voters, there's little to speak of their legislative power, largely thanks to the filibuster , which mandates a two-thirds majority for the passage of most legislation. In a starkly divided political climate, finding the necessary 10 Republicans to reach across the aisle—in most cases—is a nonstarter.
The Democratic party has faced increasing pressure to abolish or overhaul filibuster rules, but Democratic Senators aren't united in the effort. Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are the foremost Democratic holdouts on filibuster reform.
While Democrats in the Senate were able to bypass the filibuster on certain initiatives, like the pandemic relief package signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this year, the minority party is once again flexing its power to kill legislation supported by the majority party.
Currently, this is on display as the Senate considers House-passed legislation to establish a bipartisan commission examining the events of January 6, when a mob of former President Donald Trump's extremists supporters, motivated by his election lies, stormed the United States Capitol in a deadly failed insurrection.
Despite major concessions on the Democrats' part, like granting Republicans an equal number of appointments to the commission, as well as subpoena power, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and most Senate Republicans publicly oppose the legislation.
In a previous statement, Manchin said of Republican resistance to the commission:
"There's no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for. Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear."
But while Manchin said there was "no excuse" for opposition to the bill, he made clear in comments to reporters that he isn't willing to end his steadfast bulwark against filibuster reform in order to get the bill passed.
When asked if he'd be willing to break the filibuster to ensure the bill's passage, Manchin said:
"I'm not willing to destroy our government, no. I think we'll come together. You have to have faith there's 10 good people."
Time and time again, this has proven not to be the case. For instance, not a single Republican voted in favor of the pandemic relief package that helped preserve small businesses, expanded unemployment payments, and sent stimulus checks to hundreds of millions of Americans. Since the bill's passage, however, several Republicans have taken credit for the bill's more popular provisions.
Social media users skewered Manchin's claim that abolishing or overhauling the filibuster would "destroy the government."
Others pointed out that the filibuster is what's grinding congressional effectiveness to a halt.
So far, only three Republican Senators—Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine (pending the passage of an amendment)—have said they will vote in favor of the commission.