As the dust settles on Election Day, a clearer picture of the U.S, Senate is emerging, and it’s one West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin might enjoy. The final outcome will remain in limbo until December’s Georgia run-off, but another tight margin puts Manchin back in the driver’s seat to either approve or deny President Joe Biden’s agenda for the rest of his first term.
The word “revenge” can have a very negative connotation, so let’s just say Senator Manchin has a golden opportunity at “repayment” — especially with his own re-election in the deep red Mountain State looming.
Throughout 2021, Senator Manchin stood tall against the White House push for its insanely expensive Build Back Better plan. He faced protests, back-biting and questioning from those in his own party but he remained strong for a time. When he agreed to vote for Biden’s so-called skinny spending package, dubiously named the Inflation Reduction Act, Senator Manchin worked to get a few concessions from the administration and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — most notably a verbal agreement for a vote on his permitting reform legislation.
Then, quickly and effectively, the leftists did to Manchin what they almost always do: stabbed him in the back.
It began with a statement or two from extreme House Democrats on how they didn’t agree to Manchin’s concessions, so they didn’t have to honor the deal. Then Schumer feigned shock at how he wouldn’t be able to deliver on his end of the bargain. For those keeping score, it was clear: Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer got $1.2 trillion in green giveaways and Manchin didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt.
The Biden and Schumer double-cross took place just before the election when Manchin was expected to lose his leverage. In fact, Biden was so confident Manchin wouldn’t retain his power that the President pledged to close coal plants “across the country” just four days before the election. After all, no matter the results of the midterms there’s no way Manchin would remain kingmaker, right?
Remember, don’t call it revenge — call it repayment.
Within the last week Senator Manchin has put the kibosh on Biden’s pick as Chair of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission. Most Americans haven’t heard of FERC, but its Chair Richard Glick is a devoted member of Biden’s green religion — Politico even dubbed him “Biden’s most effective climate warrior” — and has used his position to push the White House agenda of energy failure. Now, without Manchin’s hearing, Glick stands to see his term end and FERC will be short a member, meaning any controversial measures will face a 2-2 vote without Glick. FERC is one of avenues Biden uses to push his climate agenda and Joe Manchin may have crippled it without lifting a finger. That could be just the start.
Biden and Schumer will have other appointments, particularly judges that they will want to get through in the next two years and they’ll have more controversial proposals to try to force upon the country. At every turn they just might need the Senator from West Virginia who they double-crossed. Sure, they could go full nuclear and strip him of his committee chair, as some green groups will likely want to do. However, Manchin has a red button too.
Imagine if Biden and Schumer push him so far he simply decides to leave the Democratic Party. Depending on the outcome in Georgia, such a move could deliver the Senate to Republicans, cost Schumer his leadership job and perhaps force Biden to use his veto pen more than the chopper to his Delaware vacations. It would also make political sense for Manchin, facing voters in a state Biden lost by 40 points in 2020. That’s more than repayment, that’s revenge.
Like many of their decisions, Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer didn’t think it through when they decided to burn Joe Manchin. And just to show that fate has a sense of humor, both Joe Manchin and Joe Biden will be on the ballot for re-election in 2024.
Joe Manchin has something few in Washington get — the chance to turn repayment into redemption.
Larry Behrens is the Communications Director for Power The Future, a non-profit that advocates for America’s energy workers. You can find him on Twitter @larrybehrens or you can email him: [email protected].