Sources close to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) say he is willing to pass parts of President Joe Biden’s agenda, but added that congressional leaders should not wait for him to write a bill detailing what he wants to pass, NBC News reported.
Manchin has said he wants to pass a budget reconciliation bill that raises taxes, reduces the deficit, cuts prescription drug costs, and fund energy and climate measures, but some Democrats think he may just be trying to run out the clock and avoid spending more money that could aggravate inflation.
The sources say it’s a mistake to wait for Manchin to craft a bill, but that leaders should write a bill and then get Manchin’s sign-off on it before presenting it for a vote.
“The best approach would be for the White House to come up with a plan, get his approval and then hand it off” to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “to keep everybody in line,” a person familiar with Manchin’s thinking said anonymously. “He’s not going to write a partisan bill. That’s not who he is.”
Many Democrats have recognized the outsized power Manchin holds in the Senate as one of only a very few Democrats not willing to go along with the party line on just about every major issue.
Manchin has refused to back legislation including a $3 trillion spending bill and abortion rights legislation. He has also refused to vote to nullify the filibuster to allow Democrats to get more of their agenda passed.
He has not bowed to intense pressure from his party to go along with a progressive agenda, citing his responsibility to his constituents in his fairly conservative state.
He understands that it would give him less power, not more, if he goes along with what the party wants.
“They want it more”
The source said of the White House: “They want it more than he does.”
Democrats are likely running out of time to pass any of the Biden agenda. If Republicans take over even one chamber of Congress, it will stop most of Biden’s initiatives, and the likelihood of Democrats holding the House with 30 of their members retiring and Republicans leading in generic ballot polls.
Manchin’s views do not fit with many traditional Republican ones; he would like to see taxes raised somewhat and wants to combat climate change, for example.
But he is certainly far from the prevailing Democrat views as well, and our democracy may very well be preserved largely because of his intractability.