Manchin shows what he values
I recently wrote a piece for the Charleston Gazette-Mail in response to Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., who had an op-ed published a few days before stating his opposition to the For the People Act (HR 1/S 1) and, once again, to ending or reforming the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. I am grateful to the Gazette-Mail for publishing my response as quickly as they did. The only problem was that there were some things I didn’t know yet with regard to Manchin and his stances.
A piece published by Igor Derysh in Salon on June 10 states that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce resumed donations to Manchin’s campaign for the first time since 2012 shortly before Manchin decided to oppose the For the People Act (a bill he cosponsored in 2019), and that Manchin even used language in the Gazette op-ed provided by the Chamber in a letter to senators. To quote from the Salon piece:
“The op-ed came after the Chamber, which has launched an expensive lobbying effort against the bill, resumed donations to Manchin’s campaign for the first time since 2012. Reuters described this flow of corporate dollars as a “reward” for Manchin’s opposition to numerous Biden administration initiatives, as well as his stalwart support for the filibuster, which has almost certainly doomed the For the People Act.”
Later in the article Derysh writes, “Nick Vaugh, a lobbyist for the Chamber, presented Manchin with a ‘Spirit of Free Enterprise Award’ in 2019, which the group says it gives to lawmakers who have supported its positions at least 70 percent of the time.”
Derysh continues, “As it happens, Vaugh has been registered to lobby senators on the For the People Act and other issues since 2019, according to federal disclosure forms.”
As I wrote in the Gazette, polling in West Virginia has shown that 79 percent of West Virginians, including 76 percent of registered Republicans, support the For the People Act. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent more than $129 million on opposing the For the People Act and related issues since 2019, when the act was first introduced in the U.S. House. I guess we know who Manchin is listening to.
As I stated above, Manchin cosponsored the For the People Act in 2019 and as recently as 2011, records on Manchin’s senate website show that he supported filibuster reform. As the Republican Party has passed, or tried to pass, hundreds of voting restrictions in states across the country using what’s been termed the “Big Lie” (the lie that Donald Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential elections) as an excuse, Manchin is counting campaign cash and enjoying lobbying largesse. As American democracy teeters on the brink Manchin plays the role of Nero, fiddling while Rome burns.