Senator Joe Manchin’s stranglehold on the Democratic Party has intensified.
In an equally divided Senate whose majority is determined only by the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, Manchin has long sat in a powerful catbird seat, which could bend the party’s legislative agenda to fit his wants because the his vote is one of the decisive elements necessary for the passage of any Democratic law.
Now, a new report from Mother Jones suggests that Manchin could easily augment his action through a plan to actually leave the Democratic Party and declare himself an independent member of Congress, threatening the party’s fragile majority in the Senate.
According to Mother Jones:
“In recent days, Sen. Joe Manchin (DW. Va.) Told comrades that he is considering leaving the Democratic Party if President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill do not agree with his request to reduce size of the social infrastructure bill from $ 3.5 trillion to $ 1.75 trillion, according to people who have heard Manchin discuss it.Manchin said that if that happened, he would declare himself an ‘American Independent.’ And he has come up with a detailed exit strategy for his departure.
That exit strategy is a two-step plan where the first step consists of Manchin sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who has resigned from his position as leader as vice chairman of policy. of the Senate Democrats and communications committee which sees the West Virginia senator sending a signal about the seriousness of his goal.
If this red flag doesn’t help move negotiations on the $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that is central to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda that Manchin prefers within a week, then it is reported that he is scheduled change his party registration to independent.
That change alone doesn’t mean Democrats will automatically give the Senate majority to Republicans. Manchin also needs to decide to talk to the GOP rather than the Democrats to trigger that switch to majority control.
Whatever decision Manchin makes if he moves forward with this plan, he is still the most powerful man in the Senate with the ability to determine the outcome of Biden’s agenda and shape negotiations on the bill for reconciliation to his will because he holds everything. of card for control of legislative power.
Mother Jones claims Manchin is already hanging on to the possibility of his departure in front of his colleagues in the Democratic Senate and Joe Biden himself.
“Manchin told colleagues he was ready to start his exit plan earlier this week and mentioned the possibility to Biden. But he was encouraged by talks with Sanders and leading Democrats that took place earlier in the week and not yet sees a reason to take this step.However, he informed colleagues that since he is not in line with the Democratic Party he believes he is likely to leave the party in November 2022.
Given Manchin’s recent statements about the reconciliation bill encouraging an ‘entitlement mentality’ ’and his refusal to support any bill that doesn’t prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, it appears the senator is really far from compatible with even moderate Democrats, like Biden.
Whether Manchin’s threats to the Democratic Senate majority will force progressive Democrats to step back and accept a more reduced compromise reconciliation bill within the $ 1.75 trillion senator parameter in West Virginia remains to be seen.
What is clear is that Manchin is relishing his kingmaker status and his power on the Democratic agenda. All the more reason that Democrats need to expand their majority in the Senate next year and siphon power away from a recalcitrant coal baron.
In a late addition to this story, Senator Manchin denied reports about his threats to leave the Democratic Party, calling them – in his swelling in West Virginia – “nonsense.”
His refusal did not in any way reduce his leverage or his primary role in passing any Democrat-sponsored legislation.
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