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Politics Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants

13:50  16 september  2021
13:50  16 september  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Joe Manchin's Approval Rating Drops as Senator Rebuffs Infrastructure Bill

  Joe Manchin's Approval Rating Drops as Senator Rebuffs Infrastructure Bill The Democratic senator has seen a steady decline in approval among the state's voters since 2019, but remains popular.Manchin now enjoys 42 percent approval in West Virginia, compared with 37 percent of respondents who disapprove. This is a notable change compared with results in the same poll in October, 2020.

The fight over Democrats' $3.5 trillion spending bill is reviving one of Washington's most perennial questions: What does Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) want?

Joe Manchin et al. standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) speaks to reporters as he arrives for a vote and a meeting with Democrats from the Texas State House on Thursday, July 15, 2021. © Greg Nash Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) speaks to reporters as he arrives for a vote and a meeting with Democrats from the Texas State House on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Manchin, who occupies the proverbial eye of the 50-50 Senate, is back in the spotlight amid a highly fraught debate over the heart of President Biden's legislative agenda. He's backchanneling with his colleagues, shadowboxing with progressives through the media and feeding GOP hopes that he'll scale down the bill.

Manchin, Sanders set for clash over Biden spending package

  Manchin, Sanders set for clash over Biden spending package Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are hurtling toward a showdown over President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending plan, as they draw red lines around their legislative priorities.The two veteran lawmakers are at opposite ends of the Senate Democratic caucus, with no close working relationship and some high-profile public splits in their past.But the White House and Democratic leaders will need to figure out a way to bring them together, and satisfy their contradictory demands, or suffer a massive defeat of the party's top goals."They really do mirror each other in terms of representing different ends of the Democratic coalition. ...

Manchin, for his part, says he's being clear in an effort to not catch anyone off guard.

"Everybody knows my position," Manchin told reporters in one of several gaggles packed into the Senate's two-day work week. "I've been very clear, very open. I didn't want anybody to say it was a surprise."

Manchin has drawn a hard line on not accepting a $3.5 trillion bill and urged his colleagues to hit "pause" on the legislation altogether-a request he reiterated during a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting this week.

"Guys, my opposition is pretty well stated, I don't know what else to tell you," Manchin told reporters.

Asked about Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) vowing that the bill will be $3.5 trillion, Manchin added: "God bless him."

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  Joe Manchin Attacks AOC After Accusation He 'Huddles' With Oil Lobbyists The West Virginia senator accused his fellow Democrat of "just speculating and saying things" during a Sunday interview.Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democratic congresswoman who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, tweeted on September 2 that "Manchin has weekly huddles w/ Exxon & is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called 'bipartisan' fossil fuel bills." Her post followed Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, arguing against a $3.5 trillion spending plan she favors in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Manchin isn't just any senator. The chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, he's tasked with drafting some of the clean energy and climate provisions, including a Clean Energy Payment Program that would offer incentives to transition the nation to clean energy. Democratic senators who view the program as a priority have been trying to win over Manchin.

The House bill includes the clean energy program, but Manchin has been cagey about his own plans. "I'm not going to negotiate this in the press, I'm really not," he said.

Manchin isn't on the health and education committee but he's pitching income-based caps for some of the benefits being drafted under the committee's jurisdiction inducing universal pre-K and the two years of free community college.

And he's been in communication with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), even though he isn't a member of the committee either.

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  Joe Manchin says AOC is not entitled to her 'own facts' after she said he's beholden to big energy companies Manchin, a centrist Democrat, is urging his party to slow down the passage of a $3.5 trillion social spending bill. See more stories on Insider's business page. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he "absolutely" does not have weekly meetings with Exxon and slammed Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after she said he was beholden to big energy companies. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez criticized Manchin for urging Democrats to slow down the passage of a $3.

Wyden is responsible for the herculean task of figuring out how to pay for the bill including how high to raise the corporate tax rate. Though Biden pitched 28 percent and House Democrats settled on 26.5 percent, Manchin has signaled that he thinks it shouldn't go higher than 25 percent.

"I've talked to him a number of times and he's had constructive ideas," Wyden said about his conversations with Manchin.

The spending bill isn't the only thing that's thrown attention back on Manchin. He was part of a group of Democratic senators who rolled out a new voting rights bill this week. And, as one of Democrats' few holdouts on changing the filibuster, he's the caucus's unofficial emissary to try to win over the 10 GOP senators the bill would need to break a 60-vote filibuster and met with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

"We have, as you know, Senator Manchin who believes that we should try to make this bipartisan. And we're giving him the opportunity to do that with the bill that he supports," Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters about Manchin's mission.

Joe Manchin can't seem to say how much he wants the reconciliation bill to cost

  Joe Manchin can't seem to say how much he wants the reconciliation bill to cost Here's what Joe Manchin knows: There's no way, no how, that he is voting for the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill being pushed by Senate Democrats. © Win McNamee/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: Sen. John Cornyn (R) (R-TX) talks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) while walking to the U.S. Senate chamber for a vote March 05, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate continues to debate the latest COVID-19 relief bill. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Here's what Joe Manchin appears to have no clue about: What size spending bill he would vote for.

But it's Manchin's stance on the spending package that is sucking up much of Washington's political oxygen, and forcing Biden and Democratic leaders to solve the tricky parlor game of what will win him over.

Senate Democrats had hoped to have their committees done drafting their bill by Wednesday, but they missed that deadline as they grappled with how to unite all 50 of their members.

Manchin met with Biden at the White House on Wednesday night, after the president met earlier the day with fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

Asked how Democrats could craft the bill without knowing what Manchin and Sinema would support, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, acknowledged that there was an "effort underway" to get all 50 unified behind a bill but that it would take "personal negotiation."

Sinema, like Manchin, has signaled opposition to the top-line figure and could be just as big of a headache. But Sinema, unlike Manchin, largely eschews the national press, while Manchin hit up the Sunday shows to detail his thinking on the spending package that is intended to include top Democratic priorities on immigration, climate change and Medicare.

Manchin's stances and omnipresence in the media at times sparked unintended humor this week.

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His TV appearances spun off a Manchin-inspired piece in The Onion, while a shirtless man won attention by calling out to Manchin as he spoke with reporters.

"Don't make us go broke, Joe. ...We're counting on you," the shirtless man yelled as Manchin and several reporters shuffled by, earning a quick "yes sir" in response from Manchin.

But Manchin's public posturing is irking progressives, who argue the entire debate shouldn't revolve around their moderate counterpart. Progressives are threatening to flex their own political muscle after initially pitching a $6 trillion bill.

"Everyone's a Joe Manchin," Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said during a strategy call. "Everyone's got power."

Asked about Manchin's influence on the debate over the spending package, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) responded: "We have 50 Democrats. We need all of them."

Manchin's public criticism has sparked GOP hopes that his opposition could end up watering down the Democratic plan. Republicans will be able to offer whatever changes to the spending bill they want before a final vote in the Senate and because of the thin margins they only need one Democrat to side with them to get a change through.

McConnell, during a string of recent stops in Kentucky, put a spotlight on Manchin and Sinema as the two Senate Democrats who could scale back the plan.

"I pray for Manchin and Sinema every night, give them a lot of love, wish them well," McConnell said at one stop.

Asked what the GOP strategy is on Manchin, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), McConnell's No. 2 quipped: "I tell people I'm mowing Joe Manchin's lawn every week."

"Whatever he needs," Thune added, "cleaning his place of residence, sweet talk."

McConnell Talks About Taking Down Biden’s Agenda—Manchin and the Moderates Are Doing It .
The centrists have betrayed us. This week, President Joe Biden saw his grand infrastructure bargain lurch closer to political oblivion after Sen. Joe Manchin urged Biden to slam the brakes on the $3.5 trillion party-line portion of the package until 2022. If that news didn’t cause migraines in the West Wing, Biden also received a kick to the teeth from Arizona Senator and pharmaceutical industry darling Kyrsten Sinema, who told the White House to kick sand on its nearly yearlong effort to lower prescription drug prices.

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