The moderate Democrat’s announcement on Sunday not to vote against Biden’s comprehensive economic and social spending package has kindled a fire among Democrats who hope to be his peers.
“Manchin’s current decision is an egregious betrayal of the working population,” said Malcolm Kenyatta, a Democrat running for his state’s open Senate seat in a crowded primary in 2022 who know in their bones what it means if the government works or not.”
Kenyatta, who has close ties to Biden after supporting him at the start of the 2020 presidential primaries, said Manchin’s decision shows “why it is so important that we win this seat and have a real majority”.
Manchin told Senate Democrats on a caucus call Tuesday night that he would keep talking but had issues with the current law, according to a source familiar with the matter. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed to his parliamentary group that he would like to vote on the law in the New Year, according to an informed source.
But after weeks of negotiations between Biden and Manchin, the West Virginia senator told Fox News on Sunday that he “cannot vote to proceed with this law.” Given the evenly divided Senate – and the fact that no Republicans backed the Build Back Better plan – Manchin’s announcement dealt a severe blow to the Biden government’s signature economic package, angered the Democrats and frustrated some of Manchin’s colleagues.
Republicans are already preparing to use the Build Back Better plan against Democrats – whether it succeeds or not – and blame them for reckless spending at a time of rising inflation.
But Washington Democrats have also tried to use Manchin’s decision to get their base to back the party’s Senate candidates in 2022 – and a preview of how those candidates might stand up against Manchin’s influence.
“Bottom line… a 50/50 Senate won’t do it, folks,” tweeted Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “We need to get more seats,” he added before listing some of the party’s best ways to increase its majority over a difficult medium-term cycle.
‘Giving up is not an option’
That frustration stretched from Ohio to Wisconsin to Florida, where Democratic Senate candidates responded to Manchin’s comments on Sunday by positioning their candidacies as the best way to disrupt Manchin’s power and address overarching Democratic issues with the legislature.
“Hey @JoeManchinWV, giving up is not an option,” tweeted Tim Ryan, a member of the Ohio Senate. “This is what happens with a government full of professional politicians who have lost sight of the needs of the people they represent,” said Alex Lasry, a Wisconsin Senate candidate. And Rep. Val Demings, who is running for the Florida Senate, pinned a simple tweet: “I would vote for #BuildBackBetter in the Senate.”
The result of Manchin’s choice for the Democratic candidates is that she is playing an argument many have made since they began campaigning earlier this year – that the Chamber has broken and the only way to fix it is to elect more Democrats .
“The Senate is so broken, but I won’t be discouraged,” said Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, who is also running for the Senate. “Let’s be clear, this moment is bigger than a senator or a law. Today it’s Build Back Better, but tomorrow it could be a law that extends the right to vote, stops climate change, or permanently excludes the Roe v. Wade Act. ” the country.”
Barnes added, in a shot at the legislature he hopes to join, “It is unacceptable that initiatives like this, with broad support from the American people, can be stopped by the vote of a single senator.”
And in North Carolina, former chairman of the state supreme court, Cheri Beasley, told local news agency WFMY that she believed in making the child tax credit permanent – something Manchin opposed – but hopes the negotiations will continue despite the announcement of the West Virginia Senators to continue.
“I think there has to be a way to stay at the negotiating table,” Beasley said in a more measured comment on Manchin. “It’s definitely worth fighting for. People are being challenged, and I hear it all over the state. “
A complicated strategy
But the anti-Manchin messages are also a bit complicated for the hopefuls of the Senate.
First, should they win their races, they would join a body that Manchin has been calling home since 2010 and would have to work with the Democratic Senator.
On a more tactical level, however, the candidates argue against – at least narrowly – democratic control, arguments that could question independent voters as to why they should give the Democrats more power in the first place.
Some Democratic activists fear that it will be difficult for their party’s Senate candidates to attack the body they want to join at a time when their party controls all levers of power in Washington. To win, which could be difficult meanwhile, these activists have argued that it is crucial for candidates to tie Senate inaction to what they see as Republicans who oppose everything that the Democrats do for the middle class and the world working people have tried.
To do that, candidates like Ryan have blamed Republicans for not coming to the table and working with Democrats on the Build Back Better plan.
“It’s a breeze,” Ryan told CNN of the plan. “No Republican came to the table to help. So we can talk about Manchin and (Arizona Sen. Kyrsten) Sinema and the Democrats, no Republican advocated childcare, working tax cuts, and helping the elderly. ” with their hearing aids and glasses. … Not a Republican. “
He added, “You are MIA in this whole process that voters will surely know about next year.”