Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is quickly earning the trust of both President Trump and the Republican Party. Being the senator of a swing state, Manchin knows the importance of unity. After all, in his own campaign, he had to appeal to every type of voter. His latest move is just another example of how much pride and respect he has for his colleagues and, more importantly, for President Trump.
Sen. Manchin has announced that he will not participate in any filibuster of Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. He says it would go against the integrity of the Senate, which should be protected.
In a recent interview with Katie Couric for Yahoo Global News, Manchin said that the Senate decorum needs to be preserved. Since 2013, when then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was in charge, it’s as if Senate Democrats think they have a “free pass” to act unprofessional and refuse to participate in the expected flow of government.
Manchin points to Reid’s implemented “nuclear option” as a prime example. Under Reid’s leadership, the Democratic majority rolled out a rule change that lowered the vote threshold on all nominees, except for the Supreme Court, from 60 to a simple majority.
The rule change, while it was beneficial to Democrats at the time, has since blown up in their faces. Because of Reid’s rule, the Republican majority was able to move through President Trump’s cabinet nominees with ease. If the rule change had never been applied, Democrats would have had a much better shot at blocking nominees like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Secretary of HUD Ben Carson – both of which were very controversial picks.
Many Democrats, such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have expressed regret in the wake of their haunting decision.
During Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings, President Trump told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “go nuclear” if necessary in order to approve the nominee. This was obviously a reference to Reid’s foolish rule change.
By refusing to protect the integrity of the government, Democrats would be undermining the leaders who founded our country. “That’s not what the Founding Fathers decided for this body. This body’s a very unique body, a very deliberate body, supposed to be the teapot cooling the tea off,” Manchin said.
Senator Schumer’s past regret hasn’t seemed to knock much sense into him, as he still plans to vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation and supports the idea of a filibuster. “If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes—a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and President Bush’s nominees—the answer is not to change the rules, it’s to change the nominee,” Schumer said.
Seeing the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat as a stolen seat by Republicans, Schumer has pledged to do everything in his limited, but not useless, power as minority leader to block any nominee put in front of him.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has also stated he will vote in opposition of Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation. “After careful consideration of Judge Gorsuch’s record, I have concluded that I will not vote to confirm him to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court,” Sanders, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, said in a statement.
Keeping in mind that the “nuclear option” hasn’t been ruled out by the GOP, Sanders added that he wouldn’t support changing Senate rules, though Republicans could be able to do that without Democratic support. “I will not support Republican efforts to change the rules to choke off debate and ram the nomination through the Senate,” he said.
Senator Manchin goes on to say that he isn’t really big on filibusters anyway. He believes in a government that works together to resolve issues and appoint people to positions without feeling the need to block any progress, especially if you choose to do so because your party didn’t get its way. The Senator believes Gorsuch should get an up-or-down vote unless lawmakers have actual, strong concerns about him.
“How do you preserve the Senate? How do you preserve the input that the minority should have? Because what goes around comes around,” he said.
The senator is scheduled to meet with Judge Gorsuch next week and plans to ask several questions to learn more about his thought process. He said Gorsuch appears to be a solid choice based on a variety of criteria: character, educational background, family values and more.
“I don’t expect, as a Democrat, that he’s going to appease a lot of Democrats because of his philosophical beliefs. But guess what? The Democrats, we didn’t win the presidential election so you don’t expect to a get a center-left [judge],” said Manchin.
After President Trump nominated Gorsuch, a very conservative judge, to take the seat left vacant after Justice Scalia’s passing, Manchin says Democrats need to let go of the issue of whether or not he will be confirmed – which he will be – and focus on his views and opinions. He says they should be more worried about exactly how conservative he really is.
“Well, he’s replacing Antonin Scalia, who [was] very, very conservative. So you can look at it [and] evaluate it — well, is he more nontraditional or more conservative than Antonin Scalia? If he fits in the same wheelhouse, then you can [look at the] justice saying, ‘That kind of fits the same parameter as who he’s replacing.’”
After his statement, Couric interjected by saying it sounded as if Manchin may be voting “yes” on Gorsuch. His reply: “Let’s just say I’m a very open-minded person.”
Senator Manchin’s ability to see both sides of every argument is probably his strongest attribute. As a conservative Democrat, he is able to form an opinion and use facts – not emotion – to back it up. Other Democratic lawmakers should take note of his words and actions, because he seems to have the right idea on how to be a politician. At least President Trump has someone he can trust to do the right thing in the Democratic Party.