Opinion: The problem with Joe Manchin
April 9, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 21%. 2 min read.
President Joe Biden has a Sen. Joe Manchin problem. As Biden attempts to move forward with his ambitious infrastructure package, Manchin is threatening to cause problems for both the administration and his own party, writes Julian Zelizer.
Reforms could make it more difficult and costly for Senators to use the filibuster, while doing away with it would allow Democrats, who currently control both Congress and the White House, to enact Biden's agenda with a simple majority vote without the help of Republicans.
On Wednesday, however, Manchin made his thoughts clear in an op-ed in the Washington Post by writing, "There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. " He expressed alarm at the use of the budget reconciliation process -- which allowed the American Rescue Plan to pass with no GOP votes -- and urged both Democrats and Republicans to find compromise.
The challenge of getting Manchin to support the party's legislative objectives will fall largely on Biden's shoulders.
Manchin can't force the Democrats to make decisions based on illusory goals of bipartisanship with a Republican Party that shows little sign it is willing to compromise or engage in meaningful negotiation.
If Manchin insists on withholding his vote for the sake of bipartisanship, then Biden and the Democrats must focus on exerting pressure back on Manchin -- either with the threat of a primary challenge or incessant grassroots opposition -- to prompt him to think differently about what the "safest" political path might be.
Manchin must also remember that his position of power is not simply the product of his personal success in West Virginia -- it is built on the accomplishments of the Democratic Party, which worked hard to regain its standing during the Obama years.
At a minimum, Democrats need to pressure Manchin into supporting a carve-out of the filibuster to grant an exception for the voting rights bill, as Georgia's 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has suggested.