Did the “Blue Dog” lose his bite?

It should come as no surprise to anyone watching the political shenanigans of the recent past that Lucy once again picked up the football and this time, when Charlie Brown kicked air, it was West Virginia’s own Senator Joe Manchin performing the wiff. Failing to gain a simple majority, Manchin’s permitting reform legislation, which required 60 votes, lost in a 47-47 tie vote.

Failing to attract the necessary votes on his third try, Senator Manchin naturally blamed Republicans for the loss. Failing to mention in his rant that only 37 Democrats voted for this attempt Manchin said, “Once again, Mitch McConnell and Republican leadership have put their own political agenda above the needs of the American people.” But then, Senator Manchin also made an earlier attempt based on a pledge he received from Democrat leadership (aka “Lucy” Schumer) for his support of the Inflation Reduction Act, which he had to withdraw due to lack of support. Hmm, did I miss where he publicly chewed “Lucy” out?

Senator Manchin and fellow Senator Shelly Moore Capito will try again in the new session so we’ll see where that goes. But this post has nothing to do with whether or not what Manchin offered was successful. Some in his home state call its demise “another victory against Senator Manchin’s ‘Dirty Deal’ permitting bill.” Others support his permitting reform. Capito, for one, did support Manchin’s third offering even while recognizing the bill as presented was “imperfect.”

There are pros and cons, yeas and nays for this and every piece of legislation submitted. But again, that’s not the purpose of this post. This is more about what will transpire during the final two years of what could be Manchin’s lame duck session in the US Senate. The soon to be Democrat Senate majority provided by the Georgia election win removes Manchin’s role as a player on the Schumer/Biden team, and he seems good with that. He said before the election that he hoped Democrats would win in Georgia so they would have absolute majority in the Senate. When a reporter suggested to Manchin that, as a result of the Georgia Democrat win, he was losing a good amount of leverage, he replied, “Happy to do it.” He was likely tired of the push and pull from both sides and the personal threats he received from the nutjobs on both sides. It is understandable that he would like to come out from under that no-win pressure. But the cost of that choice may well be his loss of stature in the party to which he has so long been aligned. It might also suggest to some of his constituents that his loss of influence might affect his ability to sway legislation (both to the benefit of and protection from) as it relates to West Virginia. All politics is local, I seem to recall someone saying.

Maybe Senator Manchin will settle happily in his diminished role or maybe will follow in the steps of newly independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema. That would, of course, put him back on the firing line and one can’t be sure he’s up for that. But should he do so, maybe he’ll take Sinema’s move one step further and caucus with Republicans. Hard to say, but interesting to watch. At any rate, apparently, Schumer’s party will likely move on from the self-described “Blue Dog” Democrat. Only time will tell Manchin’s future and 2024 will may well give the final verdict.

Full disclosure, my voter registration card designates me as “No Party Affiliation.” I happen to side with Will Rogers who said long ago, “The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”

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