Throughout the presidential election cycle, President Joe Biden maintained a rhetorical focus on bipartisanship and unity, even making it a central theme of his inaugural address last month.
Nevertheless, his administration has launched on a decidedly partisan foot — and at least one member of his party is calling him out on it. According to Breitbart, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) bucked the Democratic Party establishment and called out Biden for not doing more to reach across the aisle and find areas of agreement with the GOP.
“They didn’t do that”
Manchin, a moderate, made his surprising remarks in an apparent response to the manner in which the White House has seemingly given up on bipartisan negotiations over the terms of another round of COVID-19 relief.
Instead of compromise, Biden and other prominent Democrats have insisted that they do not need Republican support to push through a massive $1.9 trillion spending package his administration has proposed. As Politico reported, Manchin blamed the president’s advisers for leading the president in the wrong direction.
“We should have found something that we could have voted on bipartisan first and then gone down this lane when we hit a roadblock, and they didn’t do that,” he said.
The centrist senator representing a solidly Republican state added: “If we go off the rails and there’s no bipartisan [work], you ain’t coming back for two years. … We can get a trillion-dollar, bipartisan deal tonight.”
Manchin’s remarks reportedly came during a private discussion on Thursday for the Bipartisan Policy Center, which was intended to find some areas of common ground on issues including climate change without destroying the economy or U.S. jobs in the process.
He argued that the highly partisan COVID-19 relief process being forced through Congress would only make it more difficult to find agreement on issues like the pursuit of renewable energy sources.
The West Virginia Democrat also suggested that there would likely be sufficient GOP support for measures to address climate change if his party placed more emphasis on incentivizing a shift toward renewable energy rather than penalizing individuals and industries still relying on fossil fuels.
Prior to Manchin’s remarks, columnist John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post that it would work to the benefit of Biden and the Democratic Party — in multiple ways — if progressives acted in a more bipartisan fashion.
He explained that the president “would be able to claim he had gotten two-party buy-in on a major piece of legislation for the first time since the Iraq War” while notching a “big legislative victory” in the first weeks of his term. Furthermore, Podhoretz argued that Biden “would deepen and exacerbate the civil war in the Republican Party, as the Trump wing would launch an all-out war with the ‘RINO squishes’ who decided to ‘cave'” to the president.
Regardless of the potential benefits to his administration, not to mention the entire country, Biden is showing few signs that he is interested in pursuing the type of unifying positions on which he campaigned.