Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, says he supports two separate infrastructure bills rather than President Joe Biden’s massive $1.2 trillion idea. He likes the GOP’s $600 billion option, and he’s against ending or amending the filibuster. But he isn’t a roadblock to the Biden administration, he says, he’s just trying to keep the Senate balanced. Will he stand firm under the backlash from the hard left?
Roadblock or Voice of Reason?
“I’m not a roadblock at all,” Sen. Manchin told CNN recently. Despite not seeing himself as such, he has – along with fellow moderate, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) – been all that stands between the American people and numerous radical laws passed through the House and supported by most Senate Democrats. But is he a roadblock to the progressive agenda – or simply a voice of reason?
“I am not going to be part of blowing up this Senate of ours or, basically, this democracy of ours or the republic we have,” Manchin explained. “If we have a 51-vote threshold in the Senate, the same as the House, the House, the House wasn’t designed to be partisan. The House was designed to be as hot as a firecracker. We were designed to cool it off. And that’s the Founding Fathers. It was a brilliant, brilliant strategy they looked at.”
He certainly seems to be one of just a very few Democrat senators to be thinking toward the future. What happens next time the balance of power swings and there’s a new majority enjoying an extended number of budget reconciliation bills and no filibuster?
“In the Senate, the minority always has input. And it has to stay that way,” Manchin explained. He wants the GOP to have a voice in the matter, and he cautions against “beating up on the little person.”
CNN’s Dana Bash implies Manchin is a roadblock to progress. Lawyer and political analyst Bakari Sellers read both Manchin’s and Sinema’s phone numbers aloud to the nation during a press conference live on cable television, adding that he wants everyone to “call them and ask them why they [have] not signed on to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.” Unions in West Virginia have mobilized against Manchin, hoping to pressure him into backing Biden’s infrastructure bill.
But the people of West Virginia, according to a recent poll from McLaughlin & Associates, want Manchin to resist his own party, at least when it comes to the For the People Act of 2021.
Sen. Lindsey Graham – a pro-Trump Republican from South Carolina – also praised both Manchin and Sinema for opposing the end of the filibuster.
The Wheel Keeps Turning
Are Manchin and Sinema the only two Senate Democrats who can see that nuking the filibuster or resorting to unlimited reconciliation will only backfire once they’re not in power anymore? Or are they the only ones who don’t believe that now that they have control, they’ll never lose it again? Will they cave to the pressure to toe the party line, or stick to their guns? Whatever the case, hard-left Democrats can be as mad at Manchin and Sinema as they like – they’ll be thanking these two when the wheel turns ‘round again and the Democrats find themselves fighting a Republican majority.
Read more from James Fite.