Steve April 14, 2021

Joe Manchin, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is proving to have one of the biggest egos in Congress and there is a lot of competition for that title. His recent oped in the Washington Post said nothing new and only served to get his name in the news again and remind people he could be the lynchpin to getting any legislation passed.

He simply repeated what he has said before: “There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.” He adds, “Instead of fixating on eliminating the filibuster or shortcutting the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it is time we do our jobs.”

Well, Sen. Manchin, your job is to get something done and so far you have been a huge failure when it comes to getting Republican support for what President Biden proposes and you did finally vote to get the stimulus package passed using reconciliation. So, Sen. Manchin, you are a hypocrite.

That is not the only hypocritical point in Manchin’s op-ed. He wrote, “When Americans vote to send their two senators to Washington, they trust that they will work to represent the interests of their state on equal footing with 98 other senators. I have always said, ‘If I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ And I respect that each of my colleagues has the same responsibility to their constituents.” Well which constituents in West Virginia does he represent since he often votes differently than his fellow senator from the state who is a Republican?

One of the things that stood out in his oped was his unwavering support of having an equal number of senators for small and large states. He is fine with he and Shelley Capito (R-W.Va.) representing the 1.8 million people in his state with the same clout as Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and  Alejandro “Alex” Padilla (D-Calif.) representing the 40 million people of California.

So I have a question for Manchin. Since he believes small states need to be represented and said, “The Founding Fathers understood that the challenges facing a rural or small state would always be very different from a more populous state. Designating each state with the same number of senators — regardless of the population — ensured that rural and small states and the Americans who live in them would always have a seat at the table.” Based on those words will you support making D.C. a state with its population of 714,000. (That would make D.C. the third smallest state after Wyoming and Vermont).

There are many reasons to be upset with Manchin, none more so than his views on needed civil rights legislation. When it comes to voting rights, Manchin is also someone not to count on. Sen. Jim Clyburn (D- S.C.) recently said “Joe Manchin’s push for bipartisanship over passage of voting rights legislation is ‘insulting.’” When it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, Manchin has not said if he will support the Equality Act. However, his office did leak that he had issues with it and some feel that leak could be Manchin getting his excuses ready for when he votes against the bill. Alex Bollinger wrote, “In 2019 he was the only Democratic senator that did not co-sponsor the bill, citing his opposition to protecting transgender students from discrimination.” He went on to quote Manchin, “I am not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools.”

Yet despite all this at the moment we need Manchin. He was the 50th Democratic vote for Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as Majority Leader and with Kamala Harris’s vote as president of the Senate that gave Democrats the chance to name all committee chairs and set the agenda for the Senate. He is the Democrat who won in a Republican state by only 3% in 2018 and in 2020 Donald Trump won West Virginia by 40%. So we are stuck with him and must recognize even with all his hypocrisy and negativism toward Democratic policy he is better than a Republican. With Manchin there is always the chance he might do the right thing.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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