Why Democrats are lucky Joe Manchin is in the Senate

As Democrats continue to trash Joe Manchin, we learn that they have succeeded in confirming the highest number of federal judges in the first year of a presidency in four decades. The Senate has confirmed 40 judges this year. That’s more than twice the number in Donald Trump’s first year.

This couldn’t have happened without Joe Manchin. Without Manchin, the West Virginia seat he holds would be occupied by a Republican. Of this, there can be no doubt. West Virginia is a solidly Red state.

Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden there by 39 points. West Virginia’s other Senator, Republican Shelly Moore Capito, won 70 percent of the vote in 2018. All three current members of the U.S. House are Republicans, as is the state’s governor, Jim Justice, who captured 65 percent of the vote last year.

So without Joe Manchin in the Senate, the GOP would have a majority. Mitch McConnell would be majority leader.

In this scenario, the Senate wouldn’t be confirming Biden’s judicial nominees at a record pace. Instead, his nominees would be moving at a snail’s pace. The more radical ones — the favorites of the Democratic left — probably wouldn’t be moving at all.

Nor is Manchin’s contribution to Democrats limited to confirming Biden’s nominees, judicial and otherwise. Would the Senate have passed infrastructure legislation if a Republican represented West Virginia? Maybe.

But if so, it wouldn’t have looked like the bill Manchin helped guide through the Senate. For example, it probably wouldn’t have included Pete Buttigieg’s large slush fund.

That was included at the insistence of Democrats. The GOP members who backed the legislation didn’t want it, but they compromised. Had they possessed the leverage that goes with majority status, they surely would have been less yielding.

In sum, the Democrats are lucky that Joe Manchin is in the Senate. Manchin understands this and therefore probably resents the attacks on him by the White House and congressional Dems all the more.

Long may these foolish attacks continue.

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