Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is rattling the left — and solidifying a role as a bulwark against the most extreme impulses of his party.
In his latest flex, the moderate West Virginia Democrat told CNN that he wants no part of “blowing up the Senate” if that’s what it takes to pass Joe Biden’s agenda.
“I am not going to be part of blowing up this Senate of ours or basically this democracy of ours or the republic that we have,” he said on Sunday’s episode of State of the Union, according to Fox News. Manchin was reportedly referring to efforts by Senate Democrats to eliminate the filibuster, allowing them to push through radical legislation without GOP support.
Manchin doubles down
Speaking Sunday, Manchin chafed at being called a “roadblock” to Biden’s agenda by liberals. As he put it, he is simply doing his job as the Founders intended.
The House was “designed to be hot as a firecracker” and the Senate was meant “to cool it off,” Manchin explained, echoing those who say the Senate filibuster is integral to its identity as the more deliberative house of Congress. “It was a brilliant strategy they [the Founders] looked at, so why can’t we try to make this work?” the Democrat added.
Known for pitching to the center, Manchin has made clear he has no plans of taking marching orders. This has angered those on the left as President Biden pushes ahead with a wildly ambitious, multitrillion-dollar agenda that includes a so-called “infrastructure” plan and amnesty for millions of illegal aliens.
Democrats are eager to move ahead with or without support from Republicans, and many have warmed to killing the filibuster as patience dwindles.
“A critical tool” for Democracy
But Manchin has objected to the partisan route taken so far by Democrats, who passed Biden’s $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill without a single Republican vote using a rare process called budget reconciliation, according to Newsweek.
Manchin defended his staunch opposition to ending the filibuster in a recent op-ed for The Washington Post.
“The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government. That is why I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” the West Virginia senator wrote earlier this month.
Manchin is calling for something extremely rare in Washington these days: bipartisanship, which to hardened partisans sounds like the cry of a traitor. It’s winning him few friends on the left, and some praise from vulnerable Republicans in the minority, as Newsweek notes.
Can Republicans count on Joe Manchin to keep the crazies in check? We will see.