With President-elect Joe Biden taking office next Wednesday beside the first Democratic congressional majority in a decade, many Americans are battening down the hatches in preparation for a hard left turn from the federal government.
They might consider holding their horses, however, as something substantially more conservative this way comes.
The West Virginia Democratic senator all but officially announced such a plan Monday evening, reiterating his desire to defend the Senate filibuster during a “Special Report” dialogue with Fox News host Bret Baier.
“It’s all the same,” he said. “Nothing’s changed.”
Having supported the 2018 Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and frequently done battle with the likes of far-left New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Manchin entered the 2021 session an expected wildcard alongside Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
These expectations did little to stop the rapid spread of conservative concern Sunday, when the senator told CNN “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper that he would be “open” to hearing the “pros and cons” of introducing Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to the Union as states.
Statehood has long been a point of contention in modern American politics, with ideological lines often drawn respective of which party would benefit from the introduction or division of the territory under consideration.
In the case of D.C. and Puerto Rico, Republicans have little choice but to object, as the territories in question lean strongly to the left. Their propensity to give the Democratic Party two to four more seats in a deeply divided Senate, has made the territories an easy target for progressive statehood efforts — particularly in light of the Capitol Hill incursion, which gave Democrats a perfect excuse to claim the District was in need of defensive autonomy.
DC should be a state. Pass it on. https://t.co/xUJ1sud76f
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 25, 2020
Joe Manchin is not *for* DC/PR statehood, but he doesn’t seem dead-set against it either.
That’s the big, important, plausible ask to push for. pic.twitter.com/3S0pDex5gb
— Matthew Yglesias 🍦 (@mattyglesias) January 6, 2021
Still, Manchin’s willingness to hear out such a proposal should not be filed anywhere near the list of major concerns for American conservatives. First of all, it’s just that — a willingness to hear out the proposal.
CNN interview transcripts dating back little more than two months indicate that the senator was “not convinced that’s the way to go,” but would agree to “sit down and listen to the debate.” That is hardly an expression of support.
Not to mention the fact that words, actions and intentions rarely align in the political sphere. And when it comes to Joe Manchin, not a word spoken matters these next few months. At least, not unless the senator’s opinion on the filibuster changes overnight.
With a split Senate and a Democratic vice president in Kamala Harris, the progressive caucus may be able see its agenda approved in a 51-50 floor vote, should Manchin meet the party line.
Without the 60 votes necessary to achieve cloture of debate, however, no major policy item will make its way to the floor for a vote. In other words, every bill needs 10 Republican senators on board in the current legislative session.
Of course, that also means moderate Democrats can pander to the progressive left, claiming support for radical policy without ever being forced to cast the deciding vote.
.@Sen_JoeManchin is more Republican than most Republicans.
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) January 10, 2021
Joe Manchin no doubt knows this. As a matter of fact, the West Virginia senator might just be banking on it.
What could be better for a Blue Dog Democrat seeking support from both sides in a right-wing state?
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