Since passing a boondoggle of a “COVID-19 relief” bill, Democrats have hit a brick wall on meaningful legislation in Biden’s term. This logjam isn’t because there’s a lack of issues to pass legislation on, but rather, because the left flank of the party is driving policy at a moment when no one wants it. And by no one, I mean Democrats included.
Over the weekend, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) wrote an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, one of the leading newspapers in West Virginia, and announced he would vote against S.R. 1 (H.R. 1 in the House). Manchin called both the legislation and the debate around it “not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage.”
Manchin further warned, “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.”
It’s hard to disagree with those points, with a piece of legislation that was never written in a way to produce sound legislation but solely to appease the far-left wing of the party. And Manchin is not and never has been a part of that segment of the party. Joe Biden, who was pitched as a moderate to the rest of the country, lost every county in West Virginia in the 2020 election. He lost every county and only got 29.7% of the overall vote.
In 2020, West Virginian Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito won re-election with 70.4% of the overall vote. Republicans swept the other federal races too. On the other hand, Manchin won a very slim victory in 2018 with 49.6% of the vote in a state voting Republican in every other federal race. Donald Trump won West Virginia by nearly 40 points over Biden. Manchin is an anomaly in our politics — a Democrat capable of winning a deeply red state, something neither Biden nor any other Democrat can do.
When Manchin is warning about partisan legislation and the dangers of it, people should probably take heed. But instead, Democratic House leadership came out swinging at Manchin. Biden, a man credited as a dealmaker, blasted both Manchin and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. These are not exactly how-to methods for making new friends and influencing people, especially when none of these Democrats would have a chance of winning Manchin’s seat.
That’s the unspoken part of this entire charade: the moment Manchin leaves the scene, the odds that Republicans win that Senate seat is close to 100%. Manchin is reflecting the ideals of his voters — not what national Democrats believe.
All of that is basic politics. But what’s more interesting is that Manchin is this out front opposing the many insane ideas proposed by progressive leftists. Manchin has presented himself as a media target to allow the other more centrist members of the Democratic Party to duck and take cover from the insane legislative ideas of the far-left.
Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has taken a low media profile but agrees with Manchin on opposing the removal of the filibuster. She won’t vote for H.R. 1/S.R. 1 either, despite a steady stream of attacks for her to do otherwise.
Less notable, but also on Manchin’s side, is New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, who doubts attacking the filibuster and is unlikely to support H.R. 1/S.R. 1, either. Hassan is up for election in 2022 and is likely to face the very popular Republican Governor, Chris Sununu, for her seat. He already has favorable polling in his favor.
Hassan is joined by her counterpart in New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who has voiced similar concerns. And these are just the people talking publicly. Still, even with that, Democrats are down four votes on this single piece of legislation, plus any attacks on the filibuster. And this is a situation where the Senate is divided 50-50; there’s no room for error if you want to shove something through on a partisan basis.
And if Democratic senators aren’t too keen on supporting it, that takes all the pressure off Republican centrists. Schumer likely knows this, which is why he’s buried the vote on this legislation at the very end of June, just before the July 4 two-week break. If you were going to pass “historic” legislation as the far-left calls it, you wouldn’t bury it right before a holiday break when no one is paying attention.
Schumer doesn’t have the votes or support for this legislation, and he’s already burying it. Manchin is providing cover for the other centrists in the party. Republicans will get to see this legislation go down in flames without having to do much other than sitting by and watching.
The progressive left is calling the shots in the White House, House, and Senate so far, and they’re shocked to discover that shaming and bullying people into bad partisan legislation doesn’t work in Congress. They can bully Democratic leadership. Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer don’t want to deal with the progressive left’s anger. But it’s not working on the centrists, and in fact, could cost some of those centrists their jobs come 2022.