Joe Biden is wooing Joe Manchin with favors as the West Virginia Democrat upends the president’s agenda

Joe Manchin

Summary List Placement

West Virginia is getting a lot of love from the Biden administration. And it’s not a coincidence.

The state’s Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, has become the linchpin for President Joe Biden’s agenda, and the administration is wooing the 67-year old lawmaker whose opinions matter now more than ever given the current power dynamics on Capitol Hill. 

Favorable appointments, grants, and attention are going his state’s way, even as progressives fume over Manchin’s recent rejection of an administration-backed voting rights plan and his long-stated opposition to removing the Senate filibuster that forces 60 votes to get almost anything done in Washington.

It’s a list that only seems to be growing. Biden in March nominated and the Senate later confirmed Manchin’s wife, Gayle Conelly Manchin, to co-chair the Appalachian Regional Commission, a patronage job that involves promoting economic development in the region. She previously served as secretary of education and the arts for West Virginia and has been married to the senator since 1967. 

First Lady Jill Biden joined Manchin at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic last month at a Charleston high school, where she praised his “integrity and commitment to this state.” The event came days after Manchin’s meeting with Biden at the White House to talk about infrastructure. 

And last week, Energy Department Secretary Jennifer Granholm spent two days with Manchin in West Virginia and announced research and innovation grants in a state renowned for its history in coal mining.

“I’ve never had an administration pay this much attention,” he told Metronews Talkline during a recent joint interview with Granholm on potential energy and workforce investments for the state.

The stakes

So far, all the doting hasn’t swayed Manchin on other priorities for Biden and Democrats at large. 

He just published an Op-Ed in his state’s largest newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail, that all but torpedoed a sweeping election reform plan from Senate Democrats aimed at counteracting a series of new state laws passing around the US aimed at restricting access to the polls. 

Manchin wrote that he couldn’t back the bill favored by Biden and his own party because Republicans don’t support it. He also doubled down on his oft-stated pledge to not vote to “weaken or eliminate” the filibuster, guaranteeing the legislation would need 60 votes to advance. 

Even after an “informative” meeting with civil rights leaders on Tuesday, Manchin told reporters his position on the “For the People Act” had not changed.

In a 50-50 divided Senate, Manchin holds a strong hand in negotiations with the White House — and he’s using it, from his position on voting rights and the filibuster, to his insistence that negotiations continue with Republicans on the administration’s massive infrastructure package. 

Democrats are plenty familiar with what could happen if they push too hard too. Looming in the background is the ever-present possibility that progressives or Biden could push Manchin so far that he switches parties and costs the Democrats control of the Senate. 

Manchin has repeatedly said nothing of the sort is going to happen. “They gave up,” he told …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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