Joe Manchin’s prayers have been answered

Weeks before American voters headed to the polls for the Nov. 8 midterm elections, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin expressed one wish: that the 50-50 tie between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate be ended.

“I just pray to God it’s not 50-50 again,” the West Virginia senator told NBC News Sept. 29. “I want Democrats to be 51-49 50-50.”

In the interview, the centrist Democratic senator added that he was happy to relinquish his power as kingmaker, speaking of it by saying, “It is what it is. You have to do your job.”

Senator Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) arrives for a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on Capitol Hill September 29, 2022 in Washington, DC. The senator’s prayer for an end to the 50-50 Senate tie was answered Tuesday by Democrat Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Manchin’s prayer was answered as incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock’s victory in Tuesday night’s Georgia Senate runoff gave Democrats a 51-49 majority after two years of a 50-50 split between the two parties. It was the longest evenly divided Senate in history.

But while Manchin had hoped to do just that, the senator has now also lost his power to shape democratic legislation. Over the past two years, Manchin has often behaved like a kingmaker, casting the deciding vote on a range of Democratic priorities — including Biden’s climate spending package.

Manchin’s support for the $369 billion package came after President Joe Biden’s administration made significant concessions to demands from the West Virginia senator, whose family owns a coal trading company. Manchin’s vote was necessary to pass the package as no Republican supported the measure.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — rather less than the proposed $3 trillion deal — aims to cut carbon emissions by about 40 percent by 2030, a down payment on deficit reduction to fight inflation.

Manchin had said he would only support health care bills and drug prices because of concerns about how inflation would affect climate spending.

The original climate bill proposed by the Biden administration was written to gain Manchin’s approval, but the result was still being celebrated by the administration weeks after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared the bill “dead.”

The 51-49 Senate majority will give Democrats much more control of the upper chamber and likely make it easier for senators to pass contentious moves.

On the other hand, a Republican majority in the House of Representatives is likely to make it somewhat more difficult to pass the measures pushed by the Biden administration in the coming months. Joe Manchin’s prayers have been answered

Rick Schindler

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