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Home / US Business / Joe Manchin: How Democrats miscalculated the West Virginia senator and later won him back

Joe Manchin: How Democrats miscalculated the West Virginia senator and later won him back

Manchin told colleagues he knew nothing about the tax provision. Nevertheless, Democratic leaders believed that Manchin was on board since their ranked senators had reached out to him and reported back to the party bosses that he was with them. They had told the White House that things were in good shape.

But Manchin was not on board, making it clear that he was not going to be stopped by party leaders from accepting something he did not like, according to sources who spoke. him, emphasizing the power of an individual senator to track the new president's agenda in the Senate 50-50.

Asked why Democratic leaders' dispute with Manchin was not resolved in advance, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow said on Saturday, "We thought it was."

and his main swing vote ̵

1; put Washington at the forefront, threatening to blow up a delicately negotiated compromise and forcing Democrats to leave a vote open longer than anyone else in modern history – nearly 12 hours – as they engaged in a furious lobbying campaign and horse-trading to get Manchin on board.

Privately, about half a dozen Democratic senators were engaged in constant discussions with Manchin, hoping to find a way to win him back – all the while Republican Senator in Ohio, Rob Portman, spoke to Manchin several times an hour about his own option. that Manchin supported, but that democratic leaders wanted to defeat.

"I was trying to be a catch in the hatch. I was trying to get him to talk to the leadership," said Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, who said he spoke to Manchin "constantly" on Friday. "My goal was to keep him talking and not let it fall apart."

For Biden, however, the approach was a soft-sell. He was deliberately careful not to put pressure on the situation, but chose to give Manchin space and listen to his concerns, said a source with knowledge of the discussion. But Biden emphasized an overarching point: how crucial it was to reach agreement on getting the bill to the finish line given how urgent the current economic and public health crisis was. Manchin, two sources said, was urged by the president to do what he thought was right – essentially to vote on his conscience.

It was a reflection of a relationship that several sources said has been in a solid place since Biden took office – Manchin in mind that Biden is an honest broker, and Biden is aware that Manchin is his own senator and not Do not be kind to get stuck.

Manchin, who characterized his Friday conversation with Biden as "good", said on Saturday that the talks "took longer than it should have done." But he added: "We got it done and we got a better deal."

"Let's just say we had some projects that lasted 12 hours," said Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin. "It took a little longer than we thought.

Manchin had privately signed the GOP plan

Days before, Manchin had pledged to support an alternative plan by Portman, which proposed expanding unemployment benefits to include $ 300 a week through July, and reduced the benefit by $ 100 in the bill that passed the House.

But Democrats, fearing the Portman plan would pass, worked privately behind the scenes to get on with their own proposal to leave Portman.The new Democratic plan would also reduce the benefits to $ 300, but extend them to September.And to ward off setbacks from the left by simply reducing the benefits, they added a sweetener: Ensure that the first $ 10,200 would not be

In the middle of the morning on Friday, Democratic leaders felt safe on their way in. They thought Manchin had signed the proposal, following talks with a swinging vote, Democratic Senator Kyr. Stone Sinema of Arizona , and Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, main sponsor of the plan. But Manchin said Friday morning that he had no knowledge of the tax provision. It is unclear how the message was lost in the translation.

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"I've never heard of this in it This is the first time I've ever heard of it that morning. I said, "Wait a minute," Manchin told reporters on Saturday about the provision.

vote on the plan unless there were changes, which led to a day-long lobbying operation and left many of his colleagues confused.

When asked by CNN why he did not resolve the differences with Manchin at the front, Schumer suggested he be surprised by the withdrawal by his West Virginia colleague.

"People have new differences all the time," Schumer said Saturday after the bill was passed, adding: "That eight hours is pointless compared to the relief the American people are going to get. And if it helped us get to that, great. "

The failure to sort out the differences on the front surprised many Democrats because the two men have a sincere and dull relationship.

" I really love all my election rally , "said Schumer. Even Manchin?" Yes. Absolutely, "said the New York Democrat.

But many were nervous that the whole effort could collapse.

On Friday while Schumer, Carper and others were on their way to fix the Manchin problem, Carper sat alone a sofa in the Senate's private foyer. He was bent with his head almost between his knees and a telephone held close to his ear. He looked both painful from what was happening and intended to fix it. He later told a Republican colleague that things

"We are stuck," Carper told Cornyn in the Senate halls.

"It was frustrating," Stabenow said when asked about the nearly 12 hours the Senate was locked in. "We tried. to find a way forward, something we did. I always felt it was possible. I always felt we would do it. "

Day-long equestrian sports and twisting of arms

Manchin and Democratic leaders acted frantically back and forth, said several sources familiar with the talks. According to a source familiar with the matter, wanted the amendment split in two so that the Senate could vote separately on the $ 300 weekly allowance and tax-free component.

Without the two articles packaged, however, Democratic leaders knew that tax-free The management tried to impress Manchin several times that the senior senator from West Virginia asked not to pass the house, where speaker Nancy Pelosi had her own narrow margin and a group of progressives were already upset that the minimum wage of $ 15 had been removed. from the Senate bill.

"It was pretty clear that there was an enormous amount of pressure," said South Dakota Senator John Thune, Republican No. 2. "In a situation in the Senate with narrow m arginer, every man is a king and every woman is a queen. "

The White House was involved and consulted all the time, with officials working through the numbers on the various proposals that were traded back and forth, officials said. But they were also aware that this was a matter that was negotiated by important Senate Democrats – and made a point of being available, but not overbearing, officials said. The bid was available but would only end up calling Manchin. However, he kept in touch with Schumer throughout.

A senior administration specifically pointed to Carper and sens. Ron Wyden from Oregon, Jon Tester from Montana and Mark Warner from Virginia, along with Schumer, as individuals who "deserve a huge credit" for working through the final compromise.

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the overall contours of the rescue plan, the official said. The baseline, which was the driving force behind the creation of the plan itself, was to ensure that the aid "goes to the people who really need the help and are realistic about how long it will take the economy to recover," the official said.

The final agreement with Manchin, determined by the White House authorities, would continue to achieve these goals.

"The end result is essentially about the same, and therefore I do not think any of the compromises have in any way changed the essence of what I first put in the bill," Biden told reporters Saturday after the vote.

Finally, they all signed a plan to limit the eligibility of the non-taxable component to households with an annual income below $ 150,000 and extend $ 300 in weekly benefits until September 6th.

After the agreement was reached, senators were ready to vote. But it was not until an hour before midnight when the Senate began to vote seriously on the flood of changes the Republicans proposed, forcing senators to pull an all-nighter when Democrats rejected GOP talks to postpone until Saturday morning.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, an 86-year-old Republican in Oklahoma who told CNN he suffered a concussion last week after falling on ice, said he stayed up all night until the final vote to approve the bill shortly after noon Saturday. But it was not easy.

"It made for a very difficult night," Inhofe said of the concussion.

On Saturday, while waiting for the final voting to begin, Manchin went all the way to Portman's desk, and the two spoke for several minutes in a very friendly and animated manner.

As Manchin was about to leave, they gave a small Covid-inspired hug, shrugged, and Portman quickly put his arm around Manchin's back.

Asked about the exchange later, Portman said: "We must continue to work together, and I appreciate that he kept his word and stuck to my proposal, even though he was strongly convinced not to do so. I watched. him a point like 12 hours ago and said, & # 39; Joe, your arm looks a bit missing. Was it twisted? & # 39; "

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