May 19, 2024
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) appears burnt out from his perch on the Senate hot seat, a position from which he has frequently served as a key swing vote on divisive subjects.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) appears burnt out from his perch on the Senate hot seat, a position from which he has frequently served as a key swing vote on divisive subjects.

The West Virginia centrist is “praying” that the midterm elections will usher in an end to the 50-50 Senate, in which he has served as the Democratic linchpin on a plethora of critical votes, at times drawing ire from liberals for bucking his own party. He even suggested a GOP majority would be preferable to the current gridlock.

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“I’m just praying to God it’s not 50-50 again,” Manchin told NBC News. “I’d like for Democrats to be 51-49. But whatever happens, I hope it’s not a 50-50.”

Hailing from a ruby-red state that former President Donald Trump won handily by nearly 40 points, Manchin is rated more conservative than at least two of his Republican colleagues, according to GovTrack. Alongside Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), he is also responsible for tanking multiple iterations of President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar “Build Back Better” plan and other policy ambitions.

“Mister President,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) once greeted Manchin in a Capitol Hill elevator, joking about the power he wielded as a key pivot point in the Senate.

Manchin’s defiance has drawn fury from liberals aghast at his insubordination and desire for them to scale down their plans. Meanwhile, he has faced pressure from Republicans in his home state not to buckle under pressure from his own party.

“It is what it is. You’ve got to do your job,” Manchin added about his role as a power hinge in the Senate. “But let’s just see what happens. I think — maybe some changes.”

Over the summer, the senator granted Biden a win by signing off on the $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which includes upwards of $400 billion in new spending and about $300 billion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years, according to Democrats.

In exchange for toeing the party line, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reportedly agreed to grant Manchin his coveted permitting reform legislation. However, inner-party uproar resulted in that provision getting stricken from the stopgap funding bill that recently passed the Senate.

With the spending bill passed, the Senate is now on a six-week hiatus ahead of the midterm elections.

Manchin’s colleague from West Virginia echoed his sentiment about praying for an end to split power, but with a twist.

“I hope it’s not 50-50,” Capito said to the news outlet. “Because I want to be chairman of [the Environment and Public Works Committee].”

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While Republicans are favored to reclaim control of the House, the upper chamber is expected to be close, with a handful of close races viewed as critical to the parties’ prospects of wielding power.

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