The Manchin ministration

Senator Manchin may have done the Democrats a favor by holding up the Bummer Beyond Belief. That was the conclusion of the Wall Street Journal editors last week in “Taking Manchin seriously,” before Manchin unloaded on the bill yesterday:

More than a few Republicans wouldn’t mind if Democrats marched into these fixed bayonets because it would likely mean a bigger GOP electoral victory next year. But we’re more worried about the harm to the country from a bill that raises destructive taxes and creates new entitlements that will erode the work ethic and burden the fisc for decades to come. We assume Mr. Manchin is too.

For inexplicable reasons, Joe Biden misread his narrow electoral victory, and the narrow Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, as a mandate for “transformational” change. Mr. Manchin is offering the President and his party an escape route, and they should thank him for it.

Support for the Journal editors’ conclusion can be deduced from poll results summarized by Douglas Schoen and Carly Cooperman in their Hill column. The problem is that voters have gotten a bead on the miserable Democratic agenda since the election.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is on a different wavelength. In the Punchbowl News AM roundup this morning, John Bresnahan et al. quote Schumer’s angry missive to his Democratic colleagues. This is Schumer speaking:

[S]enators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television. We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act – and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.

Additionally, please be advised that shortly after the 117th Congress resumes in January, the Senate will consider voting rights legislation, as early as the first week back. Previous attempts to simply debate such legislation have been obstructed by Republican filibusters, effectively defending the voter suppression and election nullification laws passed by so many Republican state legislatures on party lines with simple majorities… If Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster and prevent the body from considering this bill, the Senate will then consider changes to any rules which prevent us from debating and reaching final conclusion on important legislation.”

Members on both sides have spent years bemoaning Senate gridlock, yearning for the Senate to operate as it once did – with Members participating, legislating, debating, publicly choosing a side. That is how the Senate worked before rules were weaponized to allow a minority of Senators to prevent the body from mere consideration of legislation.

The American people also decry this deadlock. I believe our constituents deserve to know which Senators choose to hide behind ill-conceived and abused rules and which Senators prefer to restore Senate floor procedures to better align with the Founders’ intentions. As Former Senator Robert C. Byrd said in 1979, Senate rules that seemed appropriate in the past ‘must be changed to reflect changed circumstances.’ Therefore, as with the BBB, Members will be given the chance to debate on the Senate floor and cast a vote so that their choice on this matter is clear and available for everyone to see.

To further discuss these critical issues, we will hold a virtual Special Caucus on the evening of Tuesday, December 21, the longest night of the year.

Reuters reports on Schumer’s letter here.

For reasons that can be found in the Journal editorial as well as the poll results summarized by Schoen and Cooperman, I don’t find Schumer’s take quite as persuasive as the National Lampoon’s Buy this magazine or the dog gets it!

Seth Lipsky contemplates the possibility of Manchin switching parties in his New York Sun editorial “Senator Manchin’s long goodbye.” I think that is overoptimistic, but Schumer seems to be doing his best to make it happen.

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