Newly-minted Vice President Kamala Harris’s efforts to pressure Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) into voting for President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill appears to have backfired spectactularly, ending up alienating Manchin instead.
Harris chose to conduct an interview with a West Virginia news outlet about the importance of passing the relief bill without reaching out to Manchin about it, even as Manchin expressed reservations about the bill.
After the interview aired, Manchin made it clear that he felt bullied and blindsided, making him even less likely to toe the party line than before the interview.
“I saw [the interview], I couldn’t believe it,” he said in his own interview with the same outlet. “No one called me [about it]. We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.”
Not very unifying
Harris’s actions were certainly not indicative of Biden’s pledge for unity and normalcy, and Democrats absolutely need Manchin’s vote to get the bill through with the budget reconciliation process, being that the Senate is 50-50 and would need Harris to break a tie with a party-line vote.
While Trump is apparently causing divisions in his party, Harris and Biden are doing so in theirs by insulting the very people they most need to keep on their side.
While Biden did meet with Republicans about an alternative COVID relief bill on Monday, Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Senate was moving forward to pass the Biden-proposed bill through budget reconciliation.
The likelihood of any Republicans supporting the bill is now very low since the Democrats refused to work with them, so Biden will need every single Democrat vote, including Manchin’s.
A test for Manchin
The vote will be a test of Manchin’s independence, and his willingness to go along with the leftward lurch of his party may cost him precious support in his R+19 state when it comes time for re-election — if he is willing, that is.
My sense is that enough Americans support Biden’s relief bill — in particular, the $1400 checks it will give them — that Manchin will go along with it this time.
Biden can’t really afford not to deliver the checks, since the hashtag #BidenLied has already made the rounds on Twitter as social media users complained about the amount of the promised stimulus checks and that the checks had not been immediately sent out.
Let’s just hope Manchin does hold the line on other more extreme Democrat initiatives, like the filibuster and court-packing.