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Joe Manchin flexes muscle as key Senate vote, disappointing Dems on DC statehood

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West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a genuinely “moderate” Democrat, continues to unintentionally be a blessing to the Republican Party.

Besides almost single-handedly blocking his colleagues from eliminating the filibuster, the senator is now also reportedly blocking them from transforming Washington, D.C. into a state of its own — a move that would likely trigger the addition of two Democrat senators to the U.S. Senate.

In a radio interview Friday with West Virginia MetroNews, the senator essentially endorsed Republicans’ demand that Congress stick to the constitutionally approved method of adding a state by going through the tedious, lengthy process of adopting a constitutional amendment.

“If Congress wants to make DC a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment. Every legal scholar has told us that, so why not do it the right way and let the people vote to see if they want to change?” he said.

Listen to “Talkline for Friday, April 30, 2021” on Spreaker.

His remarks came as a shock to pundits because they’d interpreted his previous remarks — he’d said on April 22nd that he’s “still discussing it” — to mean that he just needed a bit more time to come out in support of the move.

“In the radio interview, he said that he had since taken a ‘deep dive’ with his staff, looking at conclusions reached by the Justice Department under the Carter and Reagan administrations, as well as comments from then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy. They all determined that D.C. statehood would require a constitutional amendment,” Politico reported.

“Manchin cited the 23rd Amendment — which granted D.C. residents the right to vote, as well as Electoral College votes — as something that complicates the path to statehood, because lawmakers at the time opted against the idea. He added that taking congressional action would likely result in a Supreme Court challenge.”

Even without Manchin’s opposition, Democrats were already in a highly precarious spot because it’d require 60 votes in the Senate to pass D.C. statehood legislation.

But with the senator having now come out against the move, the possibility of transforming D.C. into a state anytime within the next two years has dropped to zero percent, because even if Democrats were hypothetically able to somehow eliminate the filibuster, they’d still lack the votes needed.

Despite being Democrats themselves, both Manchin and Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema have played a pivotal role in keeping congressional Democrats at bay by refusing to abolish the filibuster.

Were the filibuster to be abolished, Democrats would have the power to much more easily pass all their desired legislation, from the D.C. statehood bill to H.R. 1, the radical election bill that would federal America’s elections and drastically reduce election integrity.

One bill that could still conceivably make it through even without the elimination of the filibuster is President Joe Biden’s exorbitant infrastructure bill. The Senate parliamentarian ruled last month that Democrats may use reconciliation to move the bill, meaning they’d only need 50 votes. But according to Manchin, he has a problem with the infrastructure bill as well.

“As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” he bluntly said during another interview with MetroNews early last month.

It sounds like he’s also not too keen on the reconciliation idea, in part because he recognizes that two can play that game.

“[W]hat they (Democrats) want to do is just get rid of the rules and do what you want to do. But if you do that, just think of the swings every four years as things change – or every two years,” he said in an interview this weekend with USA Today.

It’s the same thing that happened with judicial nominees. By going nuclear for regular judicial appointments in 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid paved the way for future Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do the same for Supreme Court appointments in 2017. As a result, former President Donald Trump was quickly able to appoint three justices to the high court during his only four years in office.

“It wasn’t what it’s meant to be. Why do you think [former West Virginia Democratic Sen.] Robert Byrd put the Byrd Rule in? To try to keep them within the guardrails. It’s not for that. And if they want to get exemptions so they can use it as much as they want to run this Congress, can you imagine when our Republican friends get in control? And it’ll happen. It’ll go full circle again,” Manchin added.

Vivek Saxena

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