The West Virginia Senator Was Cozy With Trump For Political Reasons But Hes Less Of An Obstacle To An Ambitious Agenda Than An Organized Gang Of Senate Moderates
There is now a new most powerful person in the United States: Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. With the Senate evenly split, Manchin, a Democrat representing a state in which nearly 70 percent of the votes cast in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections went to Donald Trump, has the power to break a tied vote on almost any legislative business requiring a simple majority to pass. He can even decide which bills to be passed with a simple majority.
For some liberals, this is a disheartening prospect. Manchin voted with Trump more than any other Senate Democrat, opting to confirm two of the former presidents three Supreme Court nominees and evenflirting with endorsing Trumps reelection campaign.* If the new Democratic majority is forced to craft legislation designed to win over Manchin, it could all but guarantee a watered-down and compromised version of the big and transformative agenda Joe Biden began promising last year.
But, honestly, negotiating with Manchin may not be as difficult as liberals fear. A much more worrying alternative is not just possible but may be taking shape at this very moment.
Joe Manchin is, considering his circumstances, by no means the worst Democratic senator. He is quietly a semi-reliable partisan who opposed the GOPs tax bill and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And while he later suggested to the press that he would consider endorsing Trump, Manchin did vote to oust him in his first impeachment.
Stop The Steal Unfolding In Plain Sight
But you know who would gladly use a wacked out video clip to contest a free and fair election? Republican state legislators, local officials and members of Congress.
Much like the Jan. 6 insurrection, the GOP plan to steal the next presidential election is unfolding in plain sight. The goal isnt just to make it harder to vote but to also undermine the administration of elections, remove any official who stood in the way of Trumps attempt to overthrow the 2020 election, and then give Republican legislatures new powers to interfere in elections when they dont like the results.
This is happening as Republicans are preparing new electoral maps that will almost surely allow them to take back the House, while earning far fewer votes than their opponents. And if Republicans control Congress, the chances of a duly elected Democratic president having a victory accepted in both the House and Senate are plunging toward zero.
Faced with what Ari Berman, author of the book “Give Us The Ballot,” calls a concerted attempt to end the second Reconstruction, whats Manchin thinking about?
In an op-ed Sunday, Manchin insisted, The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics. This sentence should be the foundation of a stinging rebuke to Republicans who are undermining that right across the country, but the West Virginia senator used it to slam his fellow Democrats.
How Does The John Lewis Act Differ From The For The People Act
Descriptions of the two pieces of legislation are often boiled down to the For the People Act as broad and the John Lewis Act as narrow. Thats true, but the bigger difference is that the For the People Act is a highly prescriptive bill that preempts state voting and election laws, mandates many practices and prohibits many others .
The John Lewis Act would create procedural rules governing voting-rights violations. This is similar to Section 2 of the original Voting Rights Act, which established legal grounds for private parties or the federal government to challenge state laws that are intended to, or have the effect of, diluting minority voting rights. . The far more powerful Sections 4 and 5 created a system whereby jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory practices would have to submit changes in voting and election laws to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department for review and preclearance as non-discriminatory before they could take effect. It was Section 4, which set up a formula for determining which jurisdictions fell under the Section 5 preclearance requirement, that the Court killed largely killed in its 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling, claiming it was based on outdated evidence of discriminatory practices.
Despite Manchins Continued Demands For Voter Id Rules And Against Mail
After an all-night vote-a-rama on the Democrats $3.5 trillion budget resolution, the Senate early this morning took a step forward on voting rights legislation, with a 50-49 party line vote that discharged the For the People Act, also known as S. 1, from the Rules Committee. The vote was designed to give Senate Republicans a chance to support the process of moving forward, or to demonstrate to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that Republicans had no such intentions.
The vote came after weeks of negotiation with Manchin over S. 1, in which he arrived at a place where he was ready to support the legislation, just as long as it wasnt the full bill that he had already vowed to oppose. Manchin often extracts a round of concessions before offering his support to the party, and he appears to have done so again on S. 1.
I have made it crystal clear that I do not support the For the People Act, Manchin said on the Senate floor, referring to Oregon Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkleys flagship reforms to protect democracy. I have worked to eliminate the far-reaching aspects of that bill and amend the legislation to make sure our elections are fair, accessible, and secure.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., nevertheless admonished the proposal as an illicit attempt to advantage Democrats in elections.
Joe Manchin Opposes Voting Rights Bill And Defends Filibuster In Blow To Democrats
- Senator key to progress cites Republican opposition as reason
In a huge blow to Democrats hopes of passing sweeping voting rights protections, the West Virginia senator Joe Manchin said on Sunday he would not support his partys flagship bill because of Republican opposition to it.
The West Virginia senator is considered a key vote to pass the For the People Act, which would ensure automatic and same-day registration, place limits on gerrymandering and restore voting rights for felons.
Many Democrats see the bill as essential to counter efforts by Republicans in state government to restrict access to the ballot and to make it more easy to overturn election results.
It would also present voters with a forceful answer to Donald Trumps continued lies about electoral fraud, which the former president rehearsed in a speech in North Carolina on Saturday.
In a column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin said: I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act.
Manchins opposition to the bill also known as HR1 could prove crucial in the evenly split Senate. His argument against the legislation focused on Republican opposition to the bill and did not specify any issues with its contents.
Manchins op-ed might as well be titled, Why Ill vote to preserve Jim Crow
Havent you empowered Republicans to be obstructionists? Wallace asked.
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Despite Trumps recent criticisms of him, Manchin maintains a line with Trump. They last talked two weeks ago after Trump teased him in front of GOP senators and the Democratic senator is hopeful that Trump will treat him with kid gloves this fall. In Manchins estimation, he is often the only thing keeping the president from becoming a down-the-line partisan.
At times, Manchin was the only Democrat who clapped during Trumps State of the Union address. This spring, Manchin killed liberals hopes of blocking Gina Haspel for CIA director by getting behind her early. Manchin supported Trumps Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, voted for now-embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and even backed the presidents hard-line immigration proposal.
Im with him sometimes more than other Republican senators are with him, Manchin said.
But Manchin has been frustrated that every time he thinks he’s got the president in a moderate place on immigration or background checks for guns, Trump goes to the right. And he hasnt always been there for Trump, most conspicuously on the GOPs tax reform bill, which attracted no Democratic votes. He also voted against Betsy DeVos to be education secretary, Tom Price to lead the Health and Human Services Department and Obamacare repeal.
Summing up his predicament, Manchin said, Washington Democrats are making it more difficult for me to be a West Virginia Democrat.
Joe Biden Wrong About Voting Records Of Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema
If Your Time is short
Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema support the continued use of the Senates filibuster rule. This stance imperils the prospects for key elements of Bidens agenda.
However, on actual votes taken in the Senate, both Manchin and Sinema supported Bidens position 100% of the time.
In a speech marking 100 years since a race massacre in Tulsa, President Joe Biden gave a rhetorical nudge to two senators hed like to see greater support from.
“June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill,” Biden said in Tulsa on June 1. “I hear all the folks on TV saying, Why doesnt Biden get this done? Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends. But were not giving up.”
Biden didnt specify which Democratic senators he had in mind, and the White House didnt respond to an inquiry for this article. But observerswidelyassumed that he was referring to Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, whose words and positions have not always been in lockstep with Bidens.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., surrounded by reporters at the Capitol on May 26, 2021.
However, in his Tulsa remarks, Biden was wrong to say that Manchin and Sinema or any other Senate Democrat, for that matter “voted more” with Republicans than with Biden.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., outside the Capitol on Feb. 5, 2020.
Joe Manchins Hard No On Voting Bill Leaves Democrats Seeking New Path
The West Virginia senator has stated, in an op-ed, that he will not back the For the People Act unless it has bipartisan support
For months, Democrats in the US Senate have danced delicately around Joe Manchin, giving him space and holding out hope that the West Virginia Democrat would eventually come around and give his must-win vote to legislation that would amount to the most sweeping voting rights protections in a generation.
That detente effectively ended on Sunday, when Manchin authored an op-ed making it clear he will not vote for the bill, leaving Democrats to find a new path forward that is, if there is one at all.
Manchin did not raise substantive concerns about the legislation, the For the People Act, in the Senate but rather said that he would only support it if it was bipartisan. He also reiterated his resistance to eliminating the filibuster, a legislative rule that requires 60 votes to move most legislation forward in the Senate. Getting 10 Republicans to sign on to voting rights legislation is a fools errand, many observers say, pointing to how the party has embraced Trumps baseless lies about the election and is actively trying to make it harder to vote.
Republican intransigence on voting rights is not an excuse for inaction and Senator Manchin must wake up to this fact, said Karen Hobart Flynn, the president of Common Cause, a government watchdog group, which backs the bill.
The Middle Ground Could Be Found
Manchins upbringing centered on understanding and hard work.
For a long time in the state, it was Republicans, not Democrats, who needed to find political friends on the left to get anything done. And as Manchin rose through local politics, first as a member of the House of Delegates, then as a state senator, secretary of state and finally governor, Manchin was known for including Republicans in negotiations, even if Democrats enjoyed sizable majorities in the state.
He told me one time, I will never forget, if you have an issue where you cannot get one vote to go with you from the other party, regardless of who is in the majority it is probably a bad idea, recalled Mike Caputo, a Democratic state senator in West Virginia who served as majority whip in the House of Delegates during Manchins time as governor.
He added: Joe has always been the kind of guy that has always believed you can find common ground if you work hard enough. I know when he was governor, we had major disagreements, but he always believed that if we talked long enough and both sides wanted to find a resolution, the middle ground could be found.
Manchin signaled this position remains inside him in an interview on Thursday, telling CNNs Manu Raju that he was not ready to get rid of the Senate legislative filibuster, a move that would allow Democrats to do more without Republican support.
Manchin Goes Full Maga
The vulnerable West Virginia Democrat is embracing Donald Trump, figuratively and literally: We just kind of do the man-bump type thing.
06/06/2018 04:02 AM EDT
Sen. Joe Manchin talks with a local reporter on June 5 in Ranson, W.Va. The president’s popularity in the state has Republicans salivating over the prospect of knocking off the 70-year-old senator this fall. | John Shinkle/POLITICO
RANSON, W.Va. Joe Manchin wants you to know he really likes Donald Trump.
The West Virginia senator doesnt put it quite that way. But more than any other Democrat in Congress, he’s positioned himself as a vocal Trump ally. In fact, the senator, up for reelection in a state Trump won by more than 40 points, told POLITICO he isnt ruling out endorsing Trump for reelection in 2020 a position practically unheard of for a politician with a D next to his name.
Im open to supporting the person who I think is best for my country and my state, Manchin said this week from the drivers seat of his Grand Cherokee, insisting hes game to work with any president of either party. If his policies are best, Ill be right there.
The president recently mocked Manchin in front of the Senate GOP caucus as trying to hug him all the time only a slight exaggeration, by Manchins telling.
We just kind of do the man-bump type thing. Thats it. And I think hes pulling me as much as Im pulling him, Manchin said in describing his physical embraces with the president.
Can The John Lewis Act Conceivably Get Through Congress Without Being Filibustered
The premise of Joe Manchins argument for making the John Lewis Act rather than the For the People Act the main vehicle for voting rights action in Congress is that the Voting Rights Act was last extended by a unanimous Senate vote and a Republican president . Thus legislation to restore it should command considerable bipartisan support. The trouble is, it doesnt. When the bill passed the House in 2019, only one Republican voted for it. As noted above, no Republicans voted for the new version.
It is true, perhaps, that killing the John Lewis Act would be marginally more embarrassing to the GOP than killing the For the People Act, given the partys past support for the VRA. But theres little doubt Republicans will find a way to justify doing it in, by either taking the Supreme Courts position a bit further and arguing racial discrimination in voting simply no longer exists, or arguing any voting-rights legislation must include election integrity provisions addressing their phony-baloney fraud claims. Whataboutism has become the standard Republican excuse for refusing to do the right thing. So actual passage of anything like the John Lewis Act remains impossible for the foreseeable future, at least so long as Democrats cannot muster the internal Senate support to kill or modify the filibuster.
This piece has been updated.
Joe Manchin Was Never A Mystery
Its always been pretty obvious who he is: a middle-of-the-road guy with good electoral instincts, decent intentions, and bad ideas.
About the author: David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic.
The failure of the For the People Act in the Senate yesterday evening didnt provide much drama. All 50 Democrats backed the voting-rights bill, but with no Republican support, they didnt have enough votes to break a filibuster. That Democrats didnt have the votes was clear from the start of the Congress.
But journalism requires drama, which means that over the past few months Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been the subject of extensive coverage. The problem with this coverage is not that Manchin is unimportant; as the most moderate Democrat in a 50-person caucus, he is crucial. Its that there is no mystery to him.
Trying to figure out who Manchin is and what he wants, or how hes changedthe natural and reasonable defaults of political-profile writingassumes theres something more than meets the eye. Really, though, Manchin is who hes always been: a middle-of-the-road guy with good electoral instincts, decent intentions, and bad ideas.
Reporters and pundits engaged in a frenzied hermeneutic quest to decode what Manchin wanted and what hed allow. But trying to make sense of it all was a waste of time. The important thing was he was against nuking the filibuster then, and he is now.
Why Democrats Were Desperate To Win Joe Manchin’s Vote For An Already
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
On Tuesday night, the “For the People” Act will fail.
fait accompli Every single Democrat wanted to make elections more fair and open. And every single Republican stood in opposition to that effort.“Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage. Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policy-making won’t instill confidence in our democracy â it will destroy it.“As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.”
Whats In It For Republicans
Manchin has suggested that any voting rights reforms must be bipartisan, and hes resisted filibuster reform in the past. So even Manchins somewhat watered-down voting rights proposals face a tough road in the Senate unless hes willing to reconsider his desire to secure Republican votes.
That said, Manchins proposal does include a few ideas that may prove enticing to some GOP senators.
He would impose a nationwide voter ID requirement meaning voters would be required to show some form of identification before casting a ballot. Such laws enjoy broad support from Republicans, who often claim they are necessary to combat voter fraud.
In reality, such fraud is virtually nonexistent, and many voting rights advocates fear that voter ID prevents left-leaning groups, such as students, low-income voters, and voters of color, from casting a ballot because these groups are less likely to have ID.
New research, however, suggests that voter ID laws may not have much of an impact at all that is, they neither prevent fraud nor do much to disenfranchise voters. And Manchin also proposes a fairly permissive form of voter ID. While some states have strict voter ID laws that require voters to show specific forms of photo identification, Manchin would permit voters to cast a ballot if they show alternative forms of ID, such as a utility bill with their name and address on it.
Dc And Puerto Rico Statehood
In a November 10, 2020, interview, Manchin said that he did not “see the need for the D.C. statehood with the type of services that we’re getting in D.C. right now” and that he was “not convinced that’s the way to go.” Of Puerto Rico statehood, Manchin said that he opposed it but was open to discussion. In a January 10, 2021 interview, he did not affirm his opposition to statehood for D.C. or Puerto Rico, saying only, “I don’t know enough about that yet. I want to see the pros and cons. So I’m waiting to see all the facts. I’m open up to see everything”. On April 30, 2021, Manchin came out against the D.C. Statehood bill that had passed the House of Representatives, suggesting that D.C. could instead be given statehood by constitutional amendment.
The Deal Hes Pitching To Replace Hr1 Isnt Much Of A Deal At All
Senate Democrats tried and failed Tuesday to move their version of H.R.1, the bill to impose a federal election code on all 50 states. That 800-page travesty was doomed once West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin came out against it. But now Democrats are rallying around Plan B, which is based on a three-page memo circulated by Mr. Manchins office.
Its a curious document. The preamble insists that any voting bill must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together. But then it suggests an H.R.1 compromise that is no bipartisan kumbaya. As Republican leader Mitch McConnell said last week in ruling out Mr. Manchins wish list, it still involves an assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections.
To start, Mr. Manchins memo suggests mandating at least 15 consecutive days of early voting. Yet one prominent Democratic opponent of H.R.1., New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, has objected that his states constitution dates to 1783, and it requires that a voter must be present on Election Day unless absent from the town or city, or physically disabled. Yet New Hampshire, he added, has had the third highest voter turnout in the country for each of the last four presidential elections.
The Pressure Of Legacy
Another lens through which West Virginians understand Manchin that national media tend to overlook is by knowing who came before. Manchin holds the seat of the longest-serving senator in U.S. history, Democrat Robert C. Byrd, and served alongside another Senate great, Jay Rockefeller.
For Manchin, the shadows of these two men surely loom large. Both were known for their commitment to working in a bipartisan manner, bringing members of their chamber together across the aisle to do what was right for the country.
Both rallied Congress around significant shifts in policy in their time. Byrd was known as the rules man; he essentially wrote and rewrote Senate rules on order and the filibuster in his 51 years in the body, and also knew better than anyone how to work the system to bring millions of dollars of federal investments to the state to the continued benefit of West Virginians.
Rockefeller, who spent 31 years in the chamber, has said his most prized accomplishments included authoring legislation to create CHIP and helping shepherd the passage of the Affordable Care Act, just to name a few of the more than 2,000 pieces of just health care-related policy he had his hands on.
Both were true statesmena designation that I would argue few politicians in Washington and any other Capitol deserve today. The legacy of both, and how his own legacy will compare, must weigh heavy on Manchin.