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Make Manchin Wait

[ Posted Monday, November 28th, 2022 – 16:26 UTC ]

Congress returns to Washington this week, with an extremely limited amount of time left to get anything done before the year-end holidays. As I wrote last week, the lame-duck Congress has many very important things to get done, some of which may be incredibly time-consuming in the Senate (such as having to proactively raise the debt ceiling using budget reconciliation rules, which will permit the bill to pass with only Democratic votes). However, at least the time pressures in the Senate will not include filling as many federal judgeships as possible, since Democrats will still be in control after January 3rd. What would have been critical if the political power was about to shift in the chamber can now wait until next year -- and it might even be easier and faster then, if Senator Raphael Warnock wins re-election in next Tuesday's Georgia runoff election. If Democrats have 51 senators in the new Congress, they won't have to have any power-sharing arrangements with Republicans, which will speed up the committee process in a big way. But even with the judicial confirmations off the table for now, there's still quite a lot for the Senate to do, to attempt to (as one article memorably put it) "crazyproof" as much as possible before the Republicans take over the House of Representatives. But one thing that should not be undertaken in the lame-duck Senate is moving Senator Joe Manchin's pet "permitting reform" bill forward.

Passing Manchin's bill might be possible, it is worth admitting up front here. Especially if it is tied to one of the must-pass bills like the defense authorization package. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer should not spend more than about ten seconds doing so if there is even the slightest snag in the parliamentary process. I say this because there are so many other critical things to get done.

Manchin's bill is designed to speed up the process that energy projects go through before they are approved. This would include both fossil-fuel projects (like a pipeline in West Virginia Manchin is demanding be approved) and renewable-energy projects like wind farms. Progressives and environmentalists aren't exactly on board though, since "speeding up the process" equates to loosening the environmental review process. Oil and gas producers are highly in favor of passing the bill, of course.

Manchin getting a floor vote on his pet bill was part of a deal Chuck Schumer struck with him to get his support for the Inflation Reduction Act -- which, to be fair, did include $370 billion in clean energy funding. But deals are made to be broken or ignored, as Joe Manchin himself taught the rest of the Democratic Party. So it would be entirely fitting for the Senate to just decide to push any consideration of Manchin's bill out until next year.

Manchin, of course, led the Democrats on a merry dance of: "Will he or won't he?" for much of the past two years. Last year right around this time, Manchin infamously tanked President Joe Biden's attempt to get his Build Back Better plan through the Senate, for what seemed to be purely personal reasons (a fit of pique, in other words, over the White House's failure to genuflect deeply enough towards Manchin). He then allowed Biden's main agenda to languish for another half-year, until he finally got on board with the stripped-down Inflation Reduction Act. Which is the biggest reason why Schumer should snub Manchin right now. Schumer should not-so-politely tell him: "See how it feels, Joe?"

But there's another big reason why Manchin should have to wait until the next Congress to see any action on his bill. Manchin claims to be a big fan of bipartisanship, so now that he's made that bed he should have to lie in it. His bill should have to stand or fall on its own, not tied to a must-pass measure that funds the Pentagon. Manchin should be required to not only secure the 10 Republican Senate votes necessary, he should also have to convince the incoming GOP-led House to back the measure as well. That's about as bipartisan as you can get, right?

This wouldn't necessarily mean a death sentence for the bill, since making things easier for oil and gas companies has always been a priority of the Republican Party. Ideologically, the bill is a lot more conservative than liberal or progressive. So it shouldn't be seen as impossible to round up lots of GOP votes for it. But Manchin should be forced to go through this process, just to show him once again how intractable today's Republicans truly are. Kevin McCarthy is going to be led around by a choke-chain by the MAGA fringe in the House next year, and if they decide they're not going to vote on anything Joe Biden supports, then it should be up to Manchin to convince McCarthy to allow a vote where the bill might pass with bipartisan support. It could be useful as a wedge to drive between the various factions of the incoming GOP House, in other words, which would be a valuable thing for Democrats to create. Some of the incoming GOP members are actually from very moderate swing districts, and they're already pushing back against concentrating solely on a MAGA agenda in the House (which so far equates to lots of politically-based investigations and not much of anything else).

This would not only free up time in the lame-duck session, it would also free up House Democrats who don't want to vote for Manchin's bill. House progressives were incensed when Manchin pulled a bait-and-switch over Build Back Better in order to get his bipartisan infrastructure bill through, back in late 2021. Manchin promised them a vote on B.B.B. and then yanked his support from it after the infrastructure bill had made it to Biden's desk. Progressives (quite rightly) felt betrayed, so I don't see many of them lifting a finger to help Manchin out these days -- especially not when the lame-duck period will be so short.

There aren't all that many legislative days before the scheduled Christmas break. Of course, Schumer could always hold the Senate in session through the holidays if he needs to (a favorite thing for his predecessor Harry Reid to threaten). But even so, there are critical things left to get done, chief among them upping the debt ceiling high enough that the country won't hit it until after the 2024 elections and securing the process for that election by reforming the Electoral Count Act (to ensure that what Donald Trump attempted can never be repeated). Those are fundamental things that will be impossible to pass in the next Congress. So they should take precedence over one crotchety West Virginia senator's big gift to the oil and gas companies.

Joe Manchin made not only the rest of the Democratic Party wait an interminable time before he deigned to get on board the agenda of the leader of his party, but he made the entire rest of the country wait as well. He personally torpedoed all sorts of good things before he agreed to support it -- like the expanded Child Tax Credit which reduced childhood poverty by a whopping 40 percent. Forcing Manchin to wait and forcing him to engage in negotiations with the Republicans is entirely fitting. It would even be fitting if the lame-duck Senate's schedule wasn't packed quite so tightly, but since it is it's pretty easy to cut Manchin's bill from consideration before anything else has to be dropped.

Joe Manchin made the rest of us wait a very long time. Turnabout is fair play -- he should now have to wait to see his top legislative priority succeed. Or even get a vote.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


15 Comments on “Make Manchin Wait”

  1. [1] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I completely agree with everything you said, so my money is on the Dems not making him wait.

  2. [2] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I'm really looking forward to the Pillow Crackhead as the RNC chair.

  3. [3] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America? - King Twit

    Haha. I knew he was going to find out that "free speech" wasn't as much fun as he thought. The Supremes ruled that spending money is speech. So is not spending it. Apple seems to be saying something about the new Hellscape Twitter. It seems like they love using their free speech in America.

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Seems a bit schoolyard to me. If we support the bill, let's support it. If we don't, then don't. Ticky-tack personal agendas are beneath the dignity of... Oh who the hell am I kidding?

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    …a bit schoolyard is going to seem like the good old days once the Repugs own the House come January 3rd. Prepare for a dumpster fire.

  6. [6] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    On topic, being as I like like Warnock’s chances against Hershel Helmet to Helmet Walker, sticking it to Joe Manchin is nothing less than justice.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am having a hard time reconciling the DEMOCRATS ARE ALL UNITED commentaries with the OH GOODIE WE CAN WATCH DEMOCRATS SLAP DOWN AND SCREW OVER MANCHIN commentaries... :^/

    Don't worry.. I'll figger it out.. :D


    …a bit schoolyard is going to seem like the good old days once the Repugs own the House come January 3rd.

    Still can't let go of yer REPUGS BS, eh?? :eyeroll:

    Prepare for a dumpster fire.

    You mean, as opposed to the raging America/Cop hate-fest that has been the Democrat House dumpster fire???



    Seems a bit schoolyard to me. If we support the bill, let's support it. If we don't, then don't. Ticky-tack personal agendas are beneath the dignity of... Oh who the hell am I kidding?

    If ANYTHING has been made clear since Jun of 2015..

    NOTHING is beneath the dignity of Democrats and the Democrat Party...


  8. [8] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    The RNC has put together a panel of "respected leaders" to produce a review of the GQP's poor midterm performance.

    Panelists include:

    * Big Liar Kellyanne Conway
    * Unabomber fan Blake Masters
    * Snake handler and hate group leader Tony Perkins

    What could go wrong?

    They're "fighting against the Democrats’ GOTV early voting machine". LOL. Why are they fighting something that Fat Donny gifted them?

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    Amazing. Every word of what you just said.. was wrong."
    -Luke Skywalker, THE LAST JEDI



  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Manchin is a Democrat in a solid red state, which is to say that to keep his job he needs positive coverage on Fox. That's just the way the cards have been dealt, so there's not much point in punishing him for it. Before i went off on a tangent, that's what I meant to write.


  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:


    You are talking logic and rational thought..

    That simply just doesn't fly with today's Hysterical Democrat Party..

    Blind obedience and acquiescence is required by Democrat overlords..

    You don't toe the Democrat Party line, yer tar'ed and feather'ed...


  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    I know. I think that Trump eventually starts tweeting again which would be quite the gift to the Dems.

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    I know. I think that Trump eventually starts tweeting again which would be quite the gift to the Dems.

    It's hilarious..

    YOU claim that it would be GOOD for Dems if President Trump started tweeting again, yet Democrats are hysterical because President Trump is allowed back on Twitter..

    YOU claim that it will be great for Democrats if President Trump runs in 2024, yet Democrats are trying every shady trick in the book to KEEP President Trump from running in 2024...

    Talk about BI-POLAR!!! :eyeroll: Democrats don't know if they are coming or going.. Don't know the difference between their asses and a hole in the ground..


  14. [14] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Joe Manchin made not only the rest of the Democratic Party wait an interminable time before he deigned to get on board the agenda of the leader of his party, but he made the entire rest of the country wait as well.

    CW, have you ever considered that Manchin's whole back and forth with the Dems was staged... making the Republicans believe they didn't need to worry about legislation passing and then being caught completely off guard like they were? That sure seemed much more like a well laid plan than Manchin suddenly having a change of heart. It didn't seem to catch Schumer by surprise when it happened. I don't really believe in coincidences... but I definitely believe incognito intentionals exist.

    Look at how the Republicans responded -- they were so enraged and caught off guard that they voted against the bill that was for veterans suffering from the effects of the military's burn pits trying to spite the Democrats!! That emotional outburst cost the Republicans dearly!

    I'm not saying that Manchin's refusal to work with the Dems was always an act... I definitely think he liked the attention and power that he had during this time. If Manchin is back to being more supportive of the Democrats overall agenda, is it really a good time to try to rub his nose in it with the House going to the Republicans?

  15. [15] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Talk about BI-POLAR!!!

    OK.... I will....

    "The escaped animal is a polar bear with the ability to survive in the Arctic and Antarctic. It exhibits massive mood swings like that of a manic-depressive and has equal sexual desires for both males and females."

    "Dear god, are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?"

    "That's right. A bi-polar, bipolar, - bi polar bear!"

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