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Commentary

Joe Manchin Makes Important Statement About Packing the Court, Ending the Filibuster

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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.

Enter Joe Manchin, the elder statesman who just began a brilliant campaign to consolidate political power among moderates in the 117th Congress.

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.”

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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.

Do you trust Manchin to make the Democratic Party work for policy successes?

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.

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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.

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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Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He has since covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal, and now focuses his reporting on Congress and the national campaign trail. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.




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