For Manchin, a Divided Senate Is a ‘Golden Opportunity’ for Action

“We’re not going to defund the police, we’re not for the new green deal,” he said. “That’s not going to happen. We’re not for Medicare for All — we can’t even pay for Medicare for some.”

Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, said the congresswoman had submitted more amendments than 90 percent of other freshmen — including those promoting fair housing and a tear gas ban that passed the House — and had missed fewer votes than Mr. Manchin. “The congresswoman has earned a reputation as a tough, prepared member in committee hearings,” Ms. Hitt said.

Mr. Manchin is also a staunch opponent of another step for which progressives have advocated, having loudly spoken out against a move to change Senate rules so that the majority could muscle through legislation with a vote of 51, rather than requiring that bills meet a 60-vote threshold to advance. Should Democrats win control of the chamber, the change would allow Mr. Biden to circumvent Republican opposition and push through his policy priorities.

“I can assure you I will not vote to end the filibuster, because that would break the Senate,” Mr. Manchin said. “If you’ve got to blow up the Senate to do the right thing, then we’ve got the wrong people in the Senate.”

Instead, Mr. Manchin said he and a group of like-minded senators in both parties — including many of those with whom he is discussing a new relief package — were eyeing a different change to the rules to empower the rank and file. Their idea is to allow any bill approved by a committee with bipartisan support to advance to the floor. That would dilute the unilateral power of the majority leader — currently Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky — to control which measures advance.

“Before we know definitely who is going to be the majority leader, we should make the changes of how the Senate should work,” Mr. Manchin said of the proposal, which is exceedingly unlikely to be successful.

Still, John C. Kilwein, the chairman of the political science department at West Virginia University, said Mr. Manchin would be “incredibly important” in the event of a 50-50 Senate. His stances would also serve as useful cover for Mr. Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, from criticism they are likely to face for not fully embracing the progressive agenda.

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4 thoughts on “For Manchin, a Divided Senate Is a ‘Golden Opportunity’ for Action

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