In Washington, politics revolves around Joe Mansion. He loves him this way.


WASHINGTON – If Democrats cancel the blocking, there will be one senator who will have a significant impact in the House of Representatives from 50 to 50 on issues that could reshape the nation’s future: infrastructure, immigration, gun laws, and voting rights. This Senator is Joe Mansheen III from West Virginia.

There is also a Senator whose opposition to the elimination of disruption is an important reason that may never happen. This senator is also Mister Mansheen.

“He should want to get rid of procrastination because he’s suddenly become the most powerful person in this place – it’s the 50th vote on everything,” said Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, as he plotted the argument, despite not embracing it.

However, Mr. Manchin doesn’t see it that way. Much to the discontent of Democrats, Republican delight, and bewilderment of politicians who cannot understand why he is unwilling to wield more power, Mr. Mansheen does not budge.

“Stone Voices” said in an interview last week in his office, referring to the minimum required to push most legislation, adding that he would not consider suspending the suspension of some bills, as some of his colleagues put forward: “You” are “committed or not.”

But with 18 people killed after a mass shooting within a week, a growing challenge for immigrants at the border and Republicans trying to restrict voting in nearly every state as they seize power, liberals believe this moment requires a different kind of commitment. While they enjoy full control of Congress and face overlapping crises, many Democrats feel a moral and political duty to act, the process is damned.

This puts Mr. Mansheen, 73, at the center of the most important political debate in Washington – and paved the way for a collision between a party eager to use its majority to pass sweeping legislation and a political backsliding determined to return the bipartisan partnership to a polarizing room like the country.

Mr. Manchen believed that ending the legislative blockage would effectively destroy the Senate. He recalled his predecessor, Robert C. Bird, telling him that the room had been designed to enforce consensus.

Mr. Manchen has expressed his willingness to support “modern disruption”, as lawmakers have to hold the word, possibly for many hours, to prevent the vote. But he has not given up on getting rid of it altogether and on a host of issues, including voting rights and arms control, his warning is less about any particular political goal and more than making sure the legislation has bipartisan support.

On a larger scale, Manchin’s resistance to ending the disruption raised fundamental questions about which version of Congress would be more dysfunctional: a body stalled by inertia or a body that could pass legislation only by repealing long-standing guidelines so it could pass the votes of the party line. ?

“You can’t make the place work if nothing important is bypassed,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, a prominent progressive from California.

Mr. Manchen worries that the short-term benefit of letting go of disruption will be counterproductive for Democrats in the long run.

“I am concerned that the House of Representatives is pushing an agenda that will be difficult for us to maintain the majority,” said Mr. Manchin of the progressive legislation that Democratic House of Representatives are putting on the doors of the Senate. Regarding pressure from the left, he said sarcastically, “What are they going to do, go to West Virginia and campaign against me? Please, it will help me more than anything else.”

For a growing number of his fellow Democrats – not just liberals – it would be nave to continue to place hope on history, And I think, as Mr. Mansheen said of the gun law, Republicans might say, “Listen, it’s time for us to do the reasonable and sensible thing.”

Of course, few of the Senators who count on Mr. Mansheen for the fiftieth vote will openly say that their colleague is indulging in fantasy.

“I think Joe’s focus is a bipartisan partnership, and I agree with the starting point,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, before the boom was slashed. The incentive bill.

A former high school midfielder whose friends say he still enjoys being in the center of the action, Mister Mansheen is something of a unicorn in Congress today. As a pro-coal and anti-abortion Democrat, it reflects a less heterogeneous era when regionalism was as important as partisanship and senators were more individual representatives than the expected votes for their caucuses.

He was elected governor twice before taking the Mr. Bird seat, and he is the only lawmaker standing in the way of an all-Republican congressional delegation in West Virginia, a state that former President Donald J Trump scored 40 points last year. He is unlikely to be a Democratic Senate majority maker.

“We’re really the big tent,” said Senator Debbie Stapino of Michigan, before adding intentionally: “Now there’s a lot of work when you have a big tent, right? But that’s how we have the majority.”

While he is out of alignment with his Nationalist party on some issues, and has been dismissed by parts of the left as being slightly better than the Republican, his politics is more complex, and even confusing, than it appears at first glance.

He provided a critical vote on two of the era’s biggest liberal priorities – preventing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and passing a nearly $ 2 trillion stimulus bill this month – while also twice voting to convict an impeached president who is hugely popular in his country.

And while he may admire Mr. Bird’s dedication to Senate tradition, Mr. Manchin did not imitate his predecessor by leveraging his power to focus relentlessly on directing spending projects to West Virginia.

When Manchine was hesitant about one amendment delaying the passage of the stimulus bill, White House aides were puzzled because his price to support the measure wasn’t extra money for his impoverished home country. West Wing officials said his main request was to cut spending and consider Republican input that would have made the bill appear more moderate.

Mr. Manchen said that President Biden warned him in a phone call that the Progressive Left in the House of Representatives might reject the bill if the bill was Dramatically trimmed. “I said,” Mr. President, all we’re trying to do is put some safeguards in this matter.

He was less happy About Vice President Kamala Harris’ efforts to get him into legislation by appearing on a West Virginia affiliated TV channel promoting the bill without warning him in advance. The clip went viral, and Mr. Mansheen said he prompted clean-up talks with Biden and the White House chief of staff, Ron Klein.

As for any pressure he might feel to procrastinate, Mr. Manchin said he reminded Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, of how important he was to give the Democrats a majority.

He said he told Mr. Schumer, “I know one thing, Chuck, you wouldn’t have this problem at all if I weren’t here.”

Manchin’s resistance to elimination has angered many Democratic House of Representatives, particularly those who see it effectively prioritizing bipartisanship over black voting rights.

It is not the only hindrance to the kind of liberal, expansionist agenda favored by many Democrats in Congress or even the only one that still advocates obstruction. Other Senate Democrats, including Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, also share his hesitation.

However, none of them is as keen as Mr. Mansheen to reclaim a day gone by from fellowship. And perhaps, more than that, no one is as happy to talk about the need to do it while traveling to represent a country that was once a dense Democrat that was turning into the Republican Party even before Mr.Trump arrived on the scene.

He crossed the aisle last year to endorse his closest Republican ally, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and is already co-hosting bipartisan lunches. He plans to take back the pizza and beer parties after the pandemic on the boat he called home while in Washington. (It’s called “Almost Heaven,” the opening word for the John Denver Lost Virginia song.)

Although some of his colleagues enjoy ideologically charged TV news programs at prime times, Mr. Mansheen prefers another institution in Washington that has also blossomed in less polarizing times: The Sunday Morning Show.

Like many past rulers who have become angry at the icy pace of Washington, he at times can barely contain his impatience. He has repeatedly thought about leaving the Senate and trying to regain his old job in Charleston.

But those who know Mr. Mansheen well believe he loves the attention he receives in the capital, just as he did as a signal caller in Farmington, West Virginia, where he grew up near Nick Saban, the legendary college football coach from Alabama and a lifelong friend of Mr. Mansheen.

“You’re in the hot seat when you’re a quarterback player, but that’s going to be very satisfying when you make progress,” said Nick Casey, a Mansion ally and former president of the West Virginia Democratic Party. Mr. Casey said the senator, who suffered an injury that interrupted his playing days, was “the greatest QB that never started at West Virginia – just ask him.”

“This is the closest thing to how he can be a governor, really drive the agenda, and bring people together,” said Steve Williams, the mayor of Huntington, Virginia, who has served with Mr.Manshin in the state legislature.

It is the last part that moves the Senator. He happily jokes with reporters while portraying himself as a lonely, albeit well-covered, voice for courtesy, he shifts questions from politics to practical.

“Why not ask people when was the last time they took the time to talk to some people on this side?” Mr. Mansheen told a CNN reporter this week. Try to persuade them or work with them. Did you have dinner with them? Did you have lunch with them? Did you have a cup of coffee with them? Try something. “

Even so, a number of Democrats opposed to stalling in the Senate are focusing more on what Manchin’s support for “modern disruption” could herald.

“I think this gives us a lot of room for debate,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, adopting a half-baked perspective.

What seems clear is that Mister Mansheen will not switch parties.

“I don’t think this will happen, although we welcome it with open arms,” ​​said Ms. Collins, who has tried in the past to persuade her friend to join the Republicans.

It’s not hard to see why Mister Mansheen stayed at his grandparents’ party. A Catholic of Italian descent, he sought out John F. Kennedy’s office when he reached the Senate, showing a picture of the murdered president in the lobby of his office and he could remember hearing that a Massachusetts accent in his kitchen when the Kennedy brothers came to his parents’ home during the West Virginia primaries in 2003. 1960.

“Joe reminds me a lot of the old Conservative Democrats in Texas,” said Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas. They were born democrats. The democrats will die. “

As for procrastination, Mr. Koons, who was sworn in alongside Mr. Mansheen in 2010, said that liberals should not raise their hopes.

Mr. Koons recalled a conversation with someone who knew Mr. Manshein well, who said that this person told him: “If the ghost of Robert Byrd comes to life and says that the future of West Virginia itself is at stake, he may … think about it.”

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