Problem Democrat Joe Manchin Throws His Party a Few Bones

Joe Manchin takes a break from torturing fellow Democrats. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to join the Supreme Court ended without significant damage to her sterling credentials, but there remained one tiny, nagging doubt about her confirmation: What about Joe Manchin? The doubt wasn’t based on anything concrete other than Manchin’s manifest willingness to torment his own party and, perhaps, the occasional cultural conservatism he has exhibited (e.g., his self-identification as “pro-life”). In any event, the perennial swing-vote senator made it clear on Friday that he’s fine with Jackson:

One has to marvel at Jackson’s foresight in choosing to “spend a great deal of time in West Virginia” over the years.

Manchin’s support in what will likely be a party-line confirmation vote on the Senate floor wasn’t the only bone he threw to his party in today’s news cycle. As Axios reports:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told a group of climate activists and energy executives he’s open to supporting revised Build Back Better legislation narrowly addressing three issues: climate change, prescription drug prices and deficit reduction.

Obviously, the Biden administration has other fish to fry at the moment, but considering Manchin personally dealt a death blow to BBB on Fox News in December, it’s nice that he has gone to the trouble of holding out hope that he will entertain a limited salvage operation before the midterm elections, when the odds are high that Democrats will lose the governing trifecta that made BBB possible in the first place.

But speaking of November, Manchin made a third friendly gesture to his party in the form of campaign dollars. Punchbowl News reports that he “cut a $100,000 check to the DSCC” (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) to help with efforts to maintain control of the upper chamber. As is so often the case with Manchin, however, there was a catch: “A Manchin spokesperson confirmed he gave the contribution but with the provision that the money not be used against any sitting senator — Republican or Democrat.” That makes sense given his endorsement of Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski’s reelection bid.

Even with that condition and the paltry amounts involved, the contribution shows that Manchin understands his elevated position in the Senate depends strictly on the party he so often frustrates staying in the majority. If the Senate flips in November and Mitch McConnell is in charge again, Manchin becomes just another schmo in the minority and can kiss his reign as the uncrowned king of Congress goodbye.

Problem Democrat Joe Manchin Throws His Party a Few Bones