Before assuming the presidency, Joe Biden canvassed a lot for the Georgia runoff elections, knowing the importance of the Senate majority. He had a clear idea that the Republican Senate could obstruct his measures quite frequently.
With Biden taking over the presidency, there is no doubt the Senate is in Democrats’ control right now. However, Senator Joe Manchin is ready to give a tough time to Democrats in the Senate due to his differing views about a number of matters.
There is not even a one-vote margin in the current Senate, with both parties controlling 50 seats each.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is a Democrat with conservative views and may not vote with the Democrats on various legislation. This power broker of the Senate has to be convinced by Democrats everywhere, and if they fail to do so, their Senate majority will be of no use.
Manchin has repeatedly sabotaged Biden’s agenda. The latest example of this is his hindrance in the passage of the social spending legislation.
He refused to vote for the original bill worth $3.5 trillion, after which the negotiated bill was cut down to $1.75 trillion. Some key provisions on which Biden built his election campaign were eliminated from the renegotiated bill, including paid family leaves.
While Manchin agreed to vote for this negotiated plan earlier, he refused at the eleventh hour, just one day before the gathering of Congress when they were supposed to pass the bill. This delays Biden’s economic plan further while putting the congressional Democrats at risk.
Joe Manchin has already signaled that he will not entertain any effort to end the 60-vote requirement for major legislation, which was one of the primary focuses of Biden’s team to avert the hung Congress crisis.
How can Senator Joe Manchin stagnate the way of Joe Biden while sitting on the all-important seat of the Senate? Let’s have a look.
Joe Manchin: The Only Resistance to End a Filibuster
The filibuster has often been regarded as the delaying tactic of the Senate that hinders legislations. The former president of the United States, Barack Obama, called filibuster a tool of white supremacy.
Eliminating the filibuster has remained a long-term agenda of the Democrats. But with this Senate, it seems that doing so will remain their pipe dream. While talking about the filibuster on Fox News, Senator Joe Manchin said,
“I commit to you tonight, and I commit to all of your viewers and everyone else that’s watching … I will not vote to end the filibuster.”
It is interesting to note here that Senator Joe Machin is slipping away from his own narrative with every passing day. Earlier, he said that,
“I’m interested in listening to anything because the place (Senate) isn’t working.”
(Senator Joe Manchin)
It means that the same Senator who was ready to compromise now started propagating the extreme narrative.
Joe Manchin: A Republican Senator among Democrats?
The Democratic Party has many factions in it in the form of liberals, progressives, and conservatives. Senator Joe Manchin is the only conservative Democrat in the ranks of the Democratic Party, and his importance has grown even more with a 50-50 tie for Senate seats between the Democratic and Republican parties.
Joe Manchin has become even more significant than progressives like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Bernie Sanders because he may end up sabotaging the Senate majority of the Democrat party.
With Warnock and Ossoff winning the Senate races in Georgia, Democrats hoped that they would have an easy two years ahead, but Joe Manchin has some other plans.
The West Virginia Senator is a conservative and anti-progressive. He belongs to the Democratic Party, yet he does not abide by the Democratic principles.
Republicans can further exploit this situation knowing that Senator Joe Manchin will always vote against the Democrats.
Joe Manchin: Neither a Republican nor a Democrat
There has already been an emerging debate against the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for losing seats in the House of Representatives and gaining only one seat in the Senate.
Democrats were expected to sweep both houses with a considerable majority under the progressive banners of the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
Amid all this, Manchin, a Democrat Senator, declared that he would unilaterally block the Green New Deal and other progressive Senate agendas. In his interview with Fox News, Manchin said that he would not vote for any Democrat agenda, including packing the Supreme Court Justices.
After all of this, Democrats are seriously concerned about the loyalties of Manchin. It appears that Manchin is urged by conservatives in the party to oppose his party.
It would not be wrong to say that many Democrats deliberately performed poorly in House and Senate races because they did not want Joe Biden to take full control. Neither Progressive nor the conservative Democrat Joe Manchin wants to see Biden as a signing authority on all matters.
Manchin has always been an outsider in the Democratic party, an independent thinker. While the governor of West Virginia, Manchin raised teacher’s pay, fixed compensation for broker workers while also declining to raise tax-cuts.
With all this, he also reduced the state’s debt. He is a worker who always wants to be in the front. He has been voting for the pro-Trump initiatives since 2018 and has been one of those looking for bipartisan compromise on issues.
Yet, we should also know that he has not supported efforts like the tax cut and repealing of the Affordable Care Act.
However, some experts also agree that Manchin’s declaration was good news for Joe Biden. Manchin helped to stop Republicans from scaring the voters away from Democrats.
Democrats voters were more pumped considering Machin as a Republican vote as they wanted to strive hard to win the Senate for Democrats. Republicans have established rhetoric that says that if Joe Biden attains full control, he will introduce socialism in the United States.
However, Senator Joe Machin opposing Republicans also on many fronts is a silver lining around the cloud, which gives hope to Democratic leadership to convince him to get his all-important vote.
Manchin: A Power Broker of the Senate
Senator Joe Manchin knew this was coming and was already preparing himself to team up with three moderate Republicans, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney, to block progressive agendas. Many pundits also term Manchin as the Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski of the Democrats.
Nevertheless, there are still chances that Manchin will support Senate Democrats in establishing their control of the Senate, yet he may not support ending the filibuster.
In his recent interview with the New York Times, Manchin said that we had given the Republicans their chance, and now it is their turn. According to recent reports, Manchin has been working on a new COVID-19 package, directing his Chief of Staff to draw different proposals.
Apart from the above-mentioned three moderates, Manchin has also been in talks with a Senators’ bipartisan group to pass his deal. These senators include Senator Bill Cassidy, Senator Angus King, and Democrat Senators Richard J. Durbin, Jeanne Shaheen, and Mark Warner.
They all wanted to get their deal passed before Joe Biden becomes the president. More interestingly, none of these Senators is in favor of ending the filibuster.
It seems that the Senate became a hard nut to crack for Biden, more than winning the presidency. Democrats, even if they succeed in convincing Senator Joe Manchin, will still have only a simple majority, which will never be enough to pass progressive deals like the Green New Deal or to save the Affordable Care Act.
To do so, they will have to change the rules and even end the filibuster. This is a condition upon which Manchin may never agree and may also convince his colleagues not to vote with the Democrats. Therefore, Democrats may not attain that much power in the upper house and will have to wait for two more years to pass the Green New Deal or Medicare for all.