If anyone thought Joe Manchin had given up on his dream of Senate bipartisanship, the West Virginia Democratic Senator issued a reminder on Thursday that he’s still clinging to hope.
Manchin, a critical swing vote in the 50-50 Senate chamber, reiterated in several interviews that he’s not ready to give up on the idea that Republicans and Democrats can find common ground on President Biden’s massive infrastructure bill. Manchin told CNN’s Manu Raju:
The West Virginia lawmaker is digging in to his bipartisan position — and some say solidifying his influence — even as infrastructure talks between both parties continue to make little progress. Manchin also dismissed calls to use the process of reconciliation as a way to maneuver around the Senate’s filibuster rules to pass a voting overhaul bill along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaking vote. That bill is a key priority for Democrats given that GOP-run state legislatures across the U.S. have been passing laws that make voting more difficult.
Manchin’s continued calls for bipartisanship seem especially bewildering, considering Republicans just refused to support forming a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Manchin insists that using reconciliation to pass legislation with a simple majority would come back to haunt Democrats in the future when they find themselves in the congressional minority. “How well did the 2013 nuclear option work when in 2017 they … took it off the Supreme Court? What goes around comes around, so let’s work together and find a path forward,” said Manchin, referring to the Democrats’ 2013 decision to gut the filibuster.
It’s important to note that Manchin refused to say he would never support getting rid of the filibuster. Instead, he dodged giving an absolute answer and said of his colleagues in the Senate, “We’re going to make it work.”
But with time becoming a factor, how they will make it work when the Senate finds itself in such a deeply divided state, is anyone’s guess.
As you might expect, there was clear frustration among Democrats online over Manchin’s latest defense of a senate tradition some believe has outlived its usefulness.