Despite another instance of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) single-handedly blowing up another part of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, Democrats are hesitant to punish the centrist legislator.
Angry calls have echoed since Manchin halted the president’s tax reform and climate action plans last week. Among them are cries to boot the moderate from his committee assignments or even kick him out of the party.
It once appeared that Manchin supported the tax reform and climate package, but that changed with the latest inflation numbers . After June’s Consumer Price Index came in at a blistering 9.1%, the centrist walked away.
Citing the obvious need to rein in four-decade high inflation that continues to climb, Manchin balked before adding that he needs to know the July rate before moving forward on the climate bill.
One unidentified Democratic operative called the senator “ridiculous,” a “game player,” and a “bad actor.” Bernie Sanders (I-VT), though technically not a Democrat, accused Manchin of “intentionally sabotaging the president’s agenda.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, never one to let a chance slip away to criticize her own party, said measures pass quicker in the House because it “doesn’t have Joe Manchin in it.”
But with the Senate evenly divided at 50-50, party leaders know they still need his vote to push through the scaled-back budget reconciliation measure. This would lower prescription drug prices and continue subsidies for the Affordable Care Act.
If Manchin were to ditch his party or be thrown out, he could become an Independent and caucus with Republicans in the same way that Sanders does with Democrats.
That would shift Senate control to the GOP before a single midterm vote is cast and put Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in charge.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, while venting frustrations over Manchin’s roadblock for party legislation, told reporters that “purging our ranks” is not in their best interests.
He was responding to chatter about stripping Manchin from his prominent chairmanship.
The West Virginia Democrat heads the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. His party, since Biden entered the White House, developed a taste for unilaterally stripping legislators of committee assignments, though thus far they’ve stuck to targeting Republicans.