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Tipsheet

Why Is a Progressive New York Congressman Talking About What's Best for the People of West Virginia?

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

As Democrats still hope and believe there's a chance to pass the reconciliation spending bill known as Build Back Better, they've been honing in on Sen. Joe Manchin and his state of West Virginia. This includes those with no clear ties to the state. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), whose own Twitter bio acknowledges he is a "progressive," was one of those who had a warning for the senator. 

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"I think that West Virginians will be hurt if we don't pass this bill," he said in the Twitter video clip, referring to Build Back Better. He cited parents having an easier time with childcare, pell grant recipients, and low-wage workers, claiming "these are all West Virginians that will be dramatically hurt if this bill doesn't pass. So, eventually, Manchin will have to answer to them as well," Rep. Espaillat claimed.

It's indeed true that Sen. Manchin will have to answer to his constituents, but that is between Manchin and those constituents who decide to vote to re-elect Manchin in 2024, should he run again, or elect someone else.

A self-admitting progressive New York Democrat could hardly know what's best for the people of West Virginia. Manchin is the only Democrat in the congressional delegation, and he's been treated in such a way by his own party that Republican senators have been encouraging him to switch. The state's governor, Jim Justice made the switch from Democrat to Republican in 2017. 

Further, according to approval rating tracking by Civiqs, President Joe Biden has the highest disapproval rating, at 77 percent, in Manchin's state of West Virginia. By comparison, Biden's disapproval rating in New York is 30 points lower, at 47 percent, while 42 percent approve of the job he is doing.

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Polling also shows that the people of West Virginia disapprove of the legislation. According to polling data from Remington Research Group, a majority of West Virginian voters, at 53 percent, say they "strongly oppose" the bill.

Espaillat is also cited in other reports, including in POLITICO on December 20, where he claimed "we’re not taking no for an answer" to do with immigration provisions in the bill. As I previously reported, another issue with the legislation is that the Senate parliamentarian had rejected a Democratic proposal to include immigration in the bill. Since Democrats were looking to pass it through the reconciliation process to ensure they only needed a simple majority, provisions have to do with revenue and cost. 

Unfortunately, Rep. Espaillat is not the only New York member of Congress to weigh in and put his foot in his mouth about what's best for another state. 

As Spencer highlighted last Monday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" where she claimed "I represent more, or just as many or more people, than Joe Manchin does, perhaps more." It turns out she was factually wrong, and off by about one million people. 

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While it does not appear that Sen. Manchin has addressed Rep. Espaillat calling him out by name, Manchin does not take too kindly to out-of-state members weighing in. As I covered in October, he had choice words for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calling on Manchin to support Build Back Better in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. 

"To be clear, again, Congress should proceed with caution on any additional spending and I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs," Manchin reminded in a statement posted to Twitter. "No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that."

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