Manchin’s Ready to Rumble, He’s Just Not Ready to Write the Bill

Senator Joe Manchin continues to be the thorn in the side of the Democratic Party, and a treasure for the GOP.

He recently acknowledged that he quite possibly might pass some major parts of President Joe Biden’s agenda for America. But sources close to the West Virginia senator indicate that his left-leaning colleagues shouldn’t wait around for him to pen his plan.

Manchin flirts with interest in passing a bill that could pass the filibuster hurdle. He is willing to raise taxes, reduce the deficit, cut prescription drug costs and throw some money at energy and climate control, but he probably is not going to write the bill that he would support.

And for the Democrats, the clock is ticking quickly toward the November midterm elections. 

What’s creating even more tension for the party are the bipartisan talks that Manchin is having on energy. It’s widely believed that he is losing interest in a party-line bill for significant climate policies. 

Those Democrats who still have hope for the Build Back Better Biden bombshell are trying to get Democrats to see that waiting for Manchin to write his own legislation is the wrong pathway.

Closed doors

Manchin’s colleagues are thinking that since he can’t support Biden’s plan, he should write what he can support. But that is probably not going to happen. 

One source close to all the players said, “The best approach would be for the White House to come up with a plan, get his approval and then hand it off to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

The source, who requested anonymity, also said that Manchin is not going to write a partisan bill because it is not who he is.

The Democrats have been trying to figure out what Manchin does want.

Schumer met with him behind closed doors and they talked about how to fight inflation. Apparently, the meeting was “good,” according to Schumer, and they are going to meet again. Schumer admitted after the meeting that the only way to battle inflation was through reconciliation because the GOP is not going to raise taxes.

So Manchin must have gotten his point across. 

A few days ago, President Biden gave a speech that some believe was meant for Manchin’s ears, but the big players in the party don’t seem willing to put it to paper in a bill form.

They likely do not want to hear the groaning that would come from their progressive members. Another issue is that some believe Manchin is baiting and switching on his issues, and they worry that more shifting could come in the future. 

Fighting inflation

Senator Manchin did make clear, however, that he is ready to support a filibuster-proof bill and will fight inflation. 

“My main thing is inflation, fighting inflation with tax reforms. We ought to get rid of this debt and start, in a responsible way, handling our finances,” Manchin told reporters. 

At least one Republican is skeptical about the bipartisan conversations that Manchin is involved with.

Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., does not believe there is evidence that the conversations on energy from both sides of the aisle are going to be productive. And Manchin himself expressed the dilemma by confessing that a legislative package would have to be “paid for” and the GOP wasn’t interested in raising taxes to finance it. 

This has led many Democrats to see the bipartisan conversations as a “Trojan horse” aimed at simply dismantling Biden’s agenda through stalling tactics.

Tick tock, tick tock … the August recess is around the corner and the November elections are looming. Some think that if they don’t have a clear pathway forward by the end of this month, all hope is lost.

But no one seems ready to pick up the pen and write the bill.