Manchin Stymies Democrats Again, Says He Won't Stand for End-Run Around Senate Rules


Does Sen. Joe Manchin keep buckets of cold water with him at all times? It certainly seems that way, because he keeps throwing them on congressional Democrats’ hopes.

He did it again on Wednesday during an interview with Fox News, vowing not to vote to overrule the Senate parliamentarian when his party’s $1.75 trillion spending bill comes up for debate.

“I’m not going to vote to overrule the parliamentarian,” he said. “I’m not going to do that. They all know that.”

Much of President Joe Biden’s agenda has been solely economic in nature due to the fact that Democrats have 50 votes in the Senate and can only pass bills through a process called budget reconciliation without breaking the filibuster. Essentially, budgetary matters aren’t subject to the 60-vote supermajority.

However, the rules governing what can go in a reconciliation bill are ambiguous at best — which is why Democrats have tried to fit a number of proposals into reconciliation legislation under the argument that their primary impact is economic. These included a $15 federal minimum wage and a sweeping immigration bill providing amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.

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In both cases, however, the Senate parliamentarian — who provides guidance as to whether or not the provision meets the criteria to be included in reconciliation legislation — ruled against them.

There are two reasons the parliamentarian is pertinent at the moment.

The first involves paid family leave, which Manchin has opposed putting in the spending bill because he says the parliamentarian has ruled that what the Senate can do on the matter through reconciliation is limited. (A senior Democratic aide has denied this, according to CNN’s Manu Raju.)

The second is a push from progressives to get while the getting’s good.

Democrats hold slim majorities in both houses of Congress but could easily lose control of one or both of them after the 2022 midterms. Thus, on big-ticket items like amnesty and minimum wage, why not simply disregard the parliamentarian and ram them through?

Take this Twitter thread from Brian Beutler, editor in chief of left-wing outlet Crooked Media:

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This may be true — but all Manchin would have to do is vote against the bill once it’s brought to the floor. If he’s not going to vote for an end-run around the parliamentarian to include whatever wish list item the Democrats want in the reconciliation bill, one assumes he’s not going to help them pass it, either.

As Manchin pointed out in his interview, Tuesday’s election results should be seen as a thousand canaries dying in the coal mine of the Democratic agenda.

“We have a divided country. … I hope it’s a wake-up call for all of us,” Manchin said of Democrats losing the governorship in Virginia and seeing a nailbiter in a New Jersey gubernatorial race that wasn’t supposed to be close. “I’m concerned. I’ve been talking about our debt, I’ve been talking about inflation, I’ve been talking about the fallout we may have.”

Fox’s Bret Baier also asked Manchin the usual question: whether the Democratic Party had left moderates like him behind.

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“I’m a West Virginia Democrat,” he said. “I don’t know where maybe I belong at times, but I believe I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. And you know what? I have a lot of Democrats that feel the same as I do. I have a lot of Republicans feel the same as I do.”

Whatever the case may be, Manchin has been throwing a lot of cold water lately.

He threw cold water on the monstrosity of a spending bill the Democrats had planned, which originally clocked in at $3.5 trillion. He threw cold water on moving the spending bill forward before a vote on the infrastructure bill. And now he’s throwing cold water on schemes to chuck the Senate parliamentarian to the side.

This shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing for Democrats, mind you. Cold water is supposed to sober a person up. If Tuesday’s results didn’t do it, perhaps Manchin is up to the task.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture