Manchin won't vote for Biden judge picks that lack GOP support

Joe Manchin has a new rule when it comes to President Joe Biden’s judicial picks: If they don’t have Republican backing, he won’t vote for them.

The retiring West Virginia Democrat has quietly voted against several judicial picks this week, making for some close — though still ultimately successful — votes on the Senate floor. Manchin said there’s a method to his opposition.

“Just one Republican. That’s all I’m asking for. Give me something bipartisan. This is my own little filibuster. If they can’t get one Republican, I vote for none. I’ve told [Democrats] that. I said, ‘I’m sick and tired of it, I can’t take it anymore,’” Manchin said in an interview Wednesday.

Manchin’s stance makes party-line nominees even trickier as the election nears, requiring total unanimity among the rest of the 51-member caucus unless a nominee has bipartisan support. At the moment, that might be enough to stop the nomination of Adeel Mangi to an appeals court; Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) came out in opposition to his nomination on Tuesday evening and he has no Republican support at the moment.

Bipartisan support for Biden’s judicial picks can vary widely: Some get dozens of GOP votes, particularly if they are in red states where home-state senators approved the pick beforehand, while others get a total Republican blockade. And several GOP senators, like Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are often inclined to cross party lines.

But Manchin said he needs to see more of an effort to get GOP votes.

“If they don’t have a Republican, I’m opposing. That’s my way of saying: ‘I’m leaving this place, I’ve tried everything I can. Don’t tell me you can’t get one.’ If you’ve got a decent person you can at least get one. Just go ask Lisa, go ask Susan, even Lindsey,” Manchin said. “Lisa and Susan both are not controlled by just voting party line, I know that. But you’ve got to ask them.”

Manchin also said he’s doing a little work on the side to preserve the legislative filibuster, even as its two strongest Democrat-aligned advocates — him and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) head for the exits. He said he’s telling donors to ask candidates “if they will commit to supporting and keeping the filibuster. If they don’t, you ought to think twice about it.”

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