The Washington Examiner reports that U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) — as well as U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — may be about to lose their Senate power.
“What power?” you may ask.
The short answer is the power to determine whether or not controversial pieces of legislation can pass through the U.S. Senate.
Manchin and Sinema’s “power”
The Democrats have controlled the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the presidency for the past couple of years. Accordingly, one would expect them to have been able just to do whatever they want.
But, this hasn’t always been the case, and two reasons are Manchin and Sinema.
For the past two years, the Senate has been split 50–50, with the tie-breaking vote going to Vice President Kamala Harris. Thus, when attempting to pass a standard, non-budgetary type of legislation, the Democrats need the support of Republicans. This has been one limitation on the Democrats.
But, it is a different story when the Democrats try to pass dubious budgetary measures using the reconciliation process, which bypasses the Senate filibuster, requiring only a simple majority to get a piece of legislation through the Senate.
In these situations, Manchin and Sinema have often been the difference. If they vote with Democrats, the measure passes. If not, the measure doesn’t pass. This is the “power” referred to above.
How they could lose their power:
If the Senate remains split, then Manchin and Sinema will retain their power. But, there is a possibility that the Senate will no longer be 50–50.
It all hinges on the runoff election that will take place on Tuesday between U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Republican Herschel Walker. The runoff was triggered by the fact that the candidates, in the midterm elections, were separated by less than one percentage point and by the fact that neither candidate achieved 50% of the vote.
If Walker wins, we end up with that 50–50 scenario, and Sinema and Manchin keep their power. If Warnock wins, then Democrats will have a 51–49 lead in the Senate, which would effectively end Manchin’s and Sinema’s power.
On a side note, the good news for Republicans is that they will now be able to use the House to block the Democrats’ agenda.
It remains unclear whether Warnock or Walker will win on Tuesday. Recent polling does give Warnock the slight lead.
But, the race seems to be too close to really be able to trust the polls. Experts suggest that the outcome — and thus Manchin’s and Sinema’s power — is likely to hinge on which party gets better voter turnout.