Joe Manchin's Career Vs. Country Moment Will Come With the Infrastructure Legislation
You have to feel a bit sorry for Sen. Joe Manchin. He represents West Virginia, one of the Trumpiest states in America, full of evangelicals, guns, and coal magnates. So far in his career he has managed to win races for Secretary of State, Governor, and US Senator as a Democrat in a state that former President Donald Trump won by almost 40 points in 2020. Only Wyoming votes more Republican.
Manchin's string of victories in West Virginia is quite unusual in this age of hyper-partisanship and you have to tip your hat to his political acumen. Somehow he has managed to create a voting coalition of Democrats who realize there is no viable alternative and moderate, business-minded Republicans who are not quite ready to leap into the Trumpest void.
Manchin now faces the most difficult choice of his Senate career, and I'm not speaking of ditching the filibuster or supporting the "For the People" voting rights legislation. He has already said that he won't support either one, and there are other Democratic Senators that would sink their passage anyway. Voting rights legislation is extremely important, but it won't happen without a larger Democratic majority.
However, Manchin's vote will be essential to passing another key element of President Joe Biden's agenda, his infrastructure legislation which could pass with just 50 votes through the budget reconciliation process. You can't overstate how important that piece of legislation is to America's future economic growth, the climate, and the social justice movement. It's a game-changer, and Republicans know it.
Illuminate: "Biden's Build Back Better plan is the keystone to the President's agenda, the catalyst to revitalize the US economy and create the infrastructure necessary for America to compete with China and India. Moreover, it's not just a roads and bridge infrastructure plan; it will create the base on which we can build a just, sustainable, and environmentally sound 21st century economy."
Moreover, if Biden somehow gets his infrastructure bill through the Senate, Democrats stand a good chance of holding onto the House and Senate in 2022, as economic growth accelerates and good, high-paying jobs become more plentiful, even in rust belt/coal country states like West Virginia.
Progressives in the Democratic Party are now calling for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to get tough with Manchin. Schumer is wise to reject such suggestions and focus on securing Manchin's vote for the infrastructure legislation. That vote is winnable, the others, unfortunately, are not.
Because Schumer understands Manchin's political quandary, he hasn't pushed the WV Senator too hard on voting rights and the filibuster, but the infrastructure legislation may be different for several reasons. First, Schumer knows that Biden's Build Back Better plan is more popular in West Virginia than other Democratic initiatives, especially with union members who are already pressuring Manchin to back the plan.
NPR: "And unions in West Virginia, which argue that the future of the state's economy depends on Biden's proposal, took Manchin's line as a cue to mobilize and to start educating their membership and the general public about what's at stake."
Second, President Biden is exhausting every possible option to negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure deal with Republicans. The purpose of those negotiations is clear; giving Joe Manchin the political ammunition he needs to demonstrate that the GOP is being obstructionist. And, since Mitch McConnell has already said that he intends to be obstructionist, that shouldn't be very difficult.
But, Sen. Manchin is a careful politician and he knows that Donald Trump and his minions will pounce if he embraces any part of Joe Biden's legislative agenda. So, in the next few weeks, Joe Manchin will face his career vs. country moment; will he support his Party and country or will he try to eke out one more, very unlikely, election victory in 2024.
By; Don Lam & Curated Content