“Senator Harry Reid’s statement today attacking President-elect Trump is wrong! It is an absolute embarrassment to the Senate as an institution, our Democratic party, and the nation. I want to be very clear, he does not speak for me,” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said in response to comments made by his own Senate leader, Harry Reid.
The response came after outgoing senate minority leader Harry Reid had called Donald Trump a “sexual predator who lost the popular vote.” Manchin was appalled by Reid’s outburst following Election Day and he did not hesitate to call him out him out publicly.
Ever since Trump won the Electoral College and became president-elect, Sen. Manchin has been coming to the New York Republican’s defense a lot, it seems.
Liberal backlash ensued after Trump nominated Alabama senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general. Almost every Democrat on the Senate Judiciary committee promised a tough (but fair) hearing for him. Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren went so far as to demand Trump withdraw his nomination of Sessions – citing vague allegations of racism in the 1980’s.
Contrary to his colleagues, Manchin announced his intention to back the Alabama senator – giving a huge boost to his confirmation chances.
After Trump took to Twitter to lament the burning of the American flag and suggested offenders of such an act should get jail time or face loss of citizenship – many lawmakers (including Republicans) disagreed. For his part, Manchin cited flag burning’s legality by way of the first amendment - but he did seem to strike a conciliatory tone with Trump by saying, “…you do it in front of me, I’m going to beat the hell out of you.”
The two men have seemingly continued to see eye-to-eye on a host of subjects. So much so, Manchin has even been considered for a cabinet-level position in the upcoming Trump administration.
In a statement on Monday, the West Virginia Democrat said he and Trump had held a “wide ranging” conversation the week prior and would be continuing their discussions in the following days. According to several sources close to the discussion, Manchin is being considered for energy secretary.
While giving no indication that he has been, in fact, under consideration, Manchin would not rule such a scenario out. “If I can do anything that would help my state of West Virginia, and my country, I would be happy to talk to anybody,” the conservative Democrat told POLITICO. “Other than that, I haven’t heard anything ... I have nothing scheduled.”
According to one of the sources, Manchin “is being considered to show the coal people how serious Trump is about coal.”
If the president-elect wants people to know how serious he is about coal, then picking a West Virginian is definitely the way to go. The Mountain State is, without a doubt, coal country. Because of the national Democratic Party’s increasingly anti-coal sentiment and strict climate-change orthodoxy, they are becoming less and less competitive in the state. Donald Trump won West Virginia by about 68 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton won just 26 percent…
For a Democrat up for re-election here, this is troubling news.
Assuming any sort of nomination talks fall by the wayside, Manchin will be up for re-election in 2018. He has been a popular figure in West Virginia for quite some time – always holding conservative bona fides. However, for a national party brand that has become more toxic than ever in his home state – Manchin must tread lightly these next couple of years. This could mean Trump will have a key ally on the other side of the aisle.
How exactly will this friendly relationship play out on Capitol Hill? For starters, Trump will hit the ground running in January with a cabinet team in need of confirmations. Democrats are already suggesting they plan to derail and stall his nominations – throwing a wrench into his 100-day agenda. Fortunately for Trump and GOP, Sen. Harry Reid a while back abolished the 60-vote threshold for most presidential nominations. This gimmick intended to help Obama will now assist Trump in speeding up his own administration confirmations.
However, Supreme Court nominations will still require 60 votes. Senate Democrats, bitter over Republicans’ successful halt of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, have hinted they may try to pay the same favor to Trump. Red-state Democrats such as Manchin will prove critical in overcoming such a hurdle.
We could see lots of policy issues where Manchin and Trump’s White House work together on in the next two years. The West Virginia senator holds conservative/moderate views on gun rights, abortion, and the federal budget.
There was even speculation this year Manchin would switch parties and join the GOP should the Senate end up in a 50/50 split following Election Day. However, Republicans were able to retain the majority and Manchin confirmed he will continue to serve in the upper chamber as a Democrat.
Democrat or not, the senior senator from West Virginia is ready to work with Donald Trump.