The most sought-after man in Washington, D.C., these days is likely also one of the least popular, at least with Democrats. That would be Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who has decided to make himself king by being the primary obstacle to the Senate achieving anything. He might think he’s in charge because of the criticality of his single vote, but he’s actually playing Mitch McConnell’s patsy.
We saw it on infrastructure, when Senate Republicans ran to him to lock him up for months in negotiations, effectively shutting down all the momentum President Biden and Democrats had going into the process following the quick enactment of the American Rescue Plan. On voting rights, when there was a strong and unified push, they did it again. McConnell’s useful tool Susan Collins reached out with an alternative, which has been creeping along with no visible progress. Now it’s happening again with gun regulation.
The strategy on McConnell’s part seems clear—keep Manchin tied up in these never-ending “bipartisan” talks, and keep anything from actually happening. And keep him away from Chuck Schumer, or at least be there after those meetings to whisper poison in his ear about anything Schumer might be asking for, specifically using the budget reconciliation bill that is available to Democrats until the end of September to pass meaningful economic help to the American people.
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