Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) said President Biden has not pushed him to support his agenda, including sweeping legislation to overhaul elections that he opposed earlier this week or a Democrat-only spending bill.
“The president respects the institution so much because he was here and knows it better than everyone else. He does not get involved,” Manchin said in an interview with Politico on Tuesday.
“I already know where he is. I know the challenges he has, and I know basically the pressure he’s receiving all the time. We’re just trying to find a balance for it,” he added.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat, holds a crucial vote in the evenly divided Senate as Biden works to push his progressive agenda forward with little-to-no Republican support.
Manchin came out against Democrats’ sweeping voter rights legislation in an essay for the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday.
He said that he would not support the “For the People Act,” which would override hundreds of state laws governing elections, federalize control of voting and elections to an unprecedented degree, and end two centuries of state power to draw congressional districts.
He wrote that any federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both parties joining together to find a compromise lest lawmakers “risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials”
However, it is unlikely Democrats will be able to find the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation in the Senate. This has led many progressives to argue that the Senate should eliminate the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold to allow Democrats to pass their agenda with a simple majority.
In his essay published on Sunday, Manchin also reaffirmed his position that he will not vote to eliminate the filibuster.
He noted that Democrats have “attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.”
However, a growing number of Democrats are becoming frustrated with Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) for wielding outsized power in the evenly-divided Senate where the party needs every Democratic senator’s support to reach a simple majority.
Representative Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) on Monday accused Manchin of “doing everything in his power to stop democracy” and claimed that the moderate Democrat has become the “new Mitch McConnell.”
Biden last week seemingly blamed Manchin and Sinema for his inability to move his agenda forward.
“I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done? Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends,” Biden said.
However, the White House on Tuesday attempted to dispel rumors of a rift between Biden and Manchin, saying the president considers Manchin a friend.
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