The US Senate without Tears

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s flip flopping on Cabinet nominees and the Biden Stimulus Package is a good argument for recomposing the US Senate.

The problem is not Sen. Joe Manchin, de facto US Senate legislative “barrier to appoval.” The problem is the position Manchin holds- a political problem for Democratic policy initiatives.

Manchin would probably agree.

When asked why he is withdrawing support of Biden’s nomination of Neera Tanden to OMB Director, Manchin pointed to her history of partisan tweets, predicting “she won’t work well with Republicans.”

Follow this with an explanation of why he also is withdrawing support of the minimum wage provision in Biden’s COVID-19 Stimulus Bill — ‘too much current giveaway’ — and a disturbing pattern emerges.

Manchin’s explanations make little political sense — is this what his constituents want? — but nonetheless reveal a question about Senate composure and lack of efficacy.

In another world, one in which Senators represent people not states, one in which a deliberative body exercises more checks on executive power than Cabinet nominee approvals, Manchin would not be operating this way from the margins. Instead what we have in the present-day Senate is a legislative committee structure that attempts social reckoning and a voting body that spends its time “explaining votes” in front of cable TV cameras.

And a President, a former US Senator for 36 years, weighing in on passage of his party’s stimulus bill by saying, “what do you want me to take out?”

February 23

Writer, essayist, dreamer.