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Sen. Joe Manchin has often frustrated Senate Democrats on key issues in this Congress and has a longstanding reputation as a moderate — but his overall electoral record is closer to the party line than many other centrists in the Senate.
Manchin, DW.Va., has voted with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., 88% of the time this Congress, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 91% of the time, according to a ProPublica database. Significantly, he also agreed with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., on 91% of the vote, according to ProPublica.
That number is lower than most other Democrats, including moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, who has voted with Schumer on 96% of roll calls since 2021. Majority of other Senate Democrats vote with Schumer 98 % of the time, according to ProPublica.
Manchin, however, toes the party line on votes far more often than some GOP moderates.
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Senator Susan Collins. R-Maine, cast just 62% of his votes with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., This Congress, per ProPublica. Collins actually voted more with Schumer 73% of the time, according to the database.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, votes with McConnell 68% of the time. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.S.C., who in recent years has embraced former President Donald Trump and moved somewhat away from his moderate past, cast the same vote as McConnell only 73% of the time.
“The bottom line is that he comes across as a moderate, but at the end of the day, he always ends up where Chuck Schumer needs him,” an aide to the Senate GOP leadership said of Manchin.
Additionally, Manchin supported and voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Another Senate GOP aide noted one specific vote of the Manchins in this Congress that particularly angered them: the U.S. bailout, which the aide said is the “$1.9 trillion bill that put us in there in the first place.” This bill passed along party lines and would not have passed had Manchin voted against it. The GOP aide also noted that Manchin voted against the Republican tax cut in 2017.
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Renewed and forceful attacks on Manchin from Republicans come as he leads the campaign for a new social spending and tax bill that Democrats hope to pass through the parties, using a process called fiscal reconciliation. Schumer and Manchin announced the deal, titled the “Cut Inflation Act,” last week after more than a year of intra-party talks.
The bill includes climate, prescription drugs, the Affordable Care Act, energy and tax provisions. He would spend $433 billion and raise $739 billion in tax revenue, according to Democrats. Republicans, meanwhile, are attacking the bill for allegedly indirectly shifting the tax burden to the middle class, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, and what they say are frivolous climate provisions.
Manchin’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this story. But the senator himself argues that Republicans are the ones who are out of line and that in less polarized times they would actually support his bill.
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“My fellow Republicans are my friends and I worked a lot with them. And I will continue to work with them in any way,” Manchin said earlier this week, in response to a question from Fox News Digital. “But those are things that we’ve all talked about in the bipartisan groups. How can we start to pay down our debt and… take our finances seriously, our financial situation in order? It’s things every time we come together as a group, bipartisan support, that’s what we’re talking about. How can we increase production?”
Republicans also say Manchin has effectively done an about-face, having said as recently as last month that he didn’t think it would be wise to pass a bill with sweeping tax provisions and spending in today’s economy.
“Joe Manchin backtracked on everything he said publicly about what he wouldn’t do,” McConnell said on Fox News Radio’s “Guy Benson Show” on Wednesday.
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“It was a complete flip-flop. Everything he said he was against, now he’s for it,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said last week. “I regret it when people want to look you in the eye and lie to you. But it’s a lesson learned, and it won’t happen again.”
The senior West Virginia senator, of course, isn’t always in tune with his party. When Democrats were pushing an earlier version of their reconciliation bill, called “Building Back Better,” Manchin ended discussions over concerns about proposed spending, which reached $3 trillion at times.
He also has a history of boring Biden officials during hearings, particularly Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Glick, whom he shed light on allegedly slow pipeline permits earlier this year. . Manchin also voted to confirm Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh under former President Donald Trump.
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Perhaps more importantly, Manchin and Sinema have stood together against Democrats’ efforts to completely eliminate the Senate filibuster during this Congress. The Democrats tried to use the “nuclear option” to do this for an election bill, and said they wanted to get rid of the filibuster to wrap up the Supreme Court, make Puerto Rico a state, codify the right to abortion and more. All of these efforts stalled, largely because of Manchin.
But after pushing for that social spending bill, Republicans say they no longer consider Manchin a moderate and are done messing with him.
“We’re going to be focused on that seat in 2024,” Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said in a statement, referring to Manchin’s 2024 re-election.