It’s a political risk for Manchin to sign a bill that will impose a minimum corporate tax on big business, spend $369 billion on climate and energy, cut prescription drug prices and expand subsidies of the Affordable Care Act. The centrist’s drive to become the bill’s top salesman — alongside deeply unpopular Democratic leaders in red states like Manchin’s — makes him a likely target for a GOP that has often treated him as an ally in Congress. .
“His party is very unpopular in the state of West Virginia and what he is doing now is also very unpopular,” the GOP leader No. 3 said in the Senate. John Barrasso of Wyoming, who is also the top Republican on the Manchin-led energy committee. “We’re going to focus on that seat in 2024. We’ll see what materializes from the promises that might have been made to Joe Manchin in order to accept that.”
While the Democrats’ party-line legislation is much smaller than expected last year, it is quite a bit larger than the health-care-only package that Manchin appeared to be pushing just two weeks ago. Democrats see a lot of benefits for Manchin in the bill, especially the revival of a Black Lung Disability Trust Fund that helps care for coal miners in West Virginia.
And another integral part of Manchin’s deal with the rest of his party is a promise to enact energy licensing legislation later this year, designed to make it easier to build fossil fuel and green energy projects – a idea that Barrasso dubbed “a lot of pie in the sky that Democrats won’t support in the end.
Asked about Republican fury over the deal, Manchin’s office pointed to several provisions that would specifically benefit his state: money for carbon-capture energy projects; complete the Mountain Valley pipeline; a $4 billion exclusion for coal communities and health care components that disproportionately help West Virginians. Manchin is betting that will help Bill become more popular with his constituents, alongside his storied political run in the state and his knack for retail politics.
But his home state GOP colleague, the senator. Shelley MooreCapitosaid Manchin had his work cut out to offer him the deal back home: “It’s not good for the state, and I think it’s a tough sell in the state,” he said. she said, adding that “he will put that into his calculation and make his own decision” to run again in 2024.
For months, Manchin has been Republicans’ best Democratic partner. He helped keep the legislative filibuster unscathed and blocked his own party’s sweeping Build Back Better bill. He has issued inflation warnings for as long as the National Republican Senate Committee Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.).
And that of Manchin the political position in West Virginia is strongmeaning his potential opponents sense a rare opportunity in the current moment.
“After standing his ground against some of the terrible bills pushed by President Biden and the left, Joe Manchin has just changed course and let the dam open wide,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who narrowly lost to Manchin in 2018 and could run again in 2024. “I respectfully ask Senator Manchin to change his position and vote no.”
State Treasurer Riley Moore is also considered a potential candidate by Republicans. He is Capito’s nephew and grandson of former Governor Arch Moore, and is leading a GOP charge against banks that factor climate change risk into their lending decisions.
Manchin himself dismisses questions about 2024 at this time — although in refusing to endorse a second term for Biden on Sunday, he took a stance that likely helps him in his state. Regarding the party deal with Schumer, Manchin said, “It’s not about politics.” He repeatedly said the party-line energy, tax and health care bill was neither Republican nor Democratic, but rather “an American bill.”
“I think it’s absolutely necessary for our country,” Manchin said Monday. “So does this affect me politically or not?” I didn’t see it that way and I still don’t see it.
Manchin suffered from running again in 2018, frustrated by the laborious pace of the Senate and the Republican leader’s leadership style Mitch McConnell. He has made no decision on what to do in 2024, his colleagues say, and he has declined to answer direct questions about his political future in recent weeks.
“For Republicans, we’re getting redder and the Biden administration is doubling down on some of the things from the Obama administration, which are related to the Democratic party,” Capito said. “Every Democrat has problems.”
Three red state senators who face re-election in 2024 are integral to the Democratic majority: Manchin, Sherrod Brown from Ohio and Jon Tester from Montana. All represent states that have only become more Republican in recent election cycles, making it essential for Democrats to hold on to their seats and make room in the caucus for their unique ideological brands.
And Manchin probably comes from the toughest state for Democrats of any caucus member, which is why he was so deliberate when it came to backing a party deal with Schumer. It’s abundantly clear that Democrats want him to run for the Senate rather than retiring, running for governor or pursuing something like an independent presidential race.
There’s almost certainly no one else who can enter a Senate race in the state, let alone win one.
“I would like him” to run for re-election, the senator said. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “But trying to predict what Joe Manchin is going to do? … He’s a strong, healthy guy who plays a wholesome role.
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.