Schumer Has Potential Way to Pressure Joe Manchin

He could call a secret vote to strip West Virginian's chairmanship of energy panel
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2021 8:58 AM CDT
49 Democrats, 50 Republicans, and 1 Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.   (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

The dust is settling on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's decision over the weekend to buck his own party on a voting-rights bill, and there's no shortage of thoughts on what the Manchin vote in general means for the Senate. The 73-year-old may be a Democrat, but he represents the red state of West Virginia, and he has emerged as a crucial swing vote in the 50-50 chamber. In addition to his stance on the voting measure, he also has balked at getting rid of the filibuster, which enables Republicans to stymie key legislation. Coverage:

  • Fury: Politico notes that the more progressive members of the Democratic party are voicing their outrage at Manchin, but the more centrist members are largely staying silent or offering tactful responses in public. After all, they need Manchin to pass judicial nominees and the looming infrastructure package on party lines. As Democrat Dick Durbin, described as the party's chief vote-counter puts it, “Today’s adversary is tomorrow’s ally in this place.”

  • Leverage: The Hill reports that some Democrats are growing frustrated with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's seeming reluctance to put pressure on Manchin. The outlet notes that Schumer has a potentially big weapon to use should push come to shove—he could call a secret vote that could strip Manchin of his chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. For a senator who represents coal-rich West Virginia, that would be a devastating blow.
  • Big picture: It's remarkable that Manchin is even in office in West Virginia, which Donald Trump won by 39 points in November, writes Nate Cohn in a New York Times analysis. Manchin is the only Democrat to hold statewide office there, and his tenure is "the last vestige of the state’s once-reliable New Deal Democratic tradition, dating to old industrial-era fights over workers’ wages, rights and safety," writes Cohn. However, his prospects in 2024 don't look good. Progressives may say good riddance, but "Democrats will also be weaker, at least in their numbers in the Senate, for not having found a way to forge a durable alliance with some of the most reliable Democratic voters of the 20th century."
  • Manchin is right: That's the take of Damon Linker at the Week, who assesses Manchin's positions on the election bill and the filibuster. "If Democrats want to govern like they have a massive mandate, they need to win a lot more votes than they did last November," he writes. "Unless and until that happens, they have no choice but to try and work with the opposition, especially when it comes to reforming the country's electoral rules. That's something that Joe Manchin understands. The rest of his party would be wise to take heed."
  • Manchin is wrong: That's the take of Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post, who ridicules his rationale that the election measure is no good because it lacks GOP support, "It’s time for Manchin to put up or share blame for Republicans’ subversion of democracy," she writes. "Let him come up with 10 Republicans for H.R. 4 and for a slimmed down H.R. 1. Let him find four more Republicans to support the Jan. 6 commission. If he cannot, then his thesis that the filibuster promotes debate and makes way for compromise collapses and his role in promoting the tyranny of the minority is laid bare."
(More Joe Manchin stories.)

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