Joe Manchin's Latest Move on Reconciliation Will Have Liberals Seeing Red

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Earlier today, RedState reported on the Senate parliamentarian saying that a pathway to citizenship (or green cards) for illegal immigrants is a no-go as part of the massive reconciliation play being made by Democrats. That represented another big wrench thrown into the gears of the process, but Sen. Joe Manchin may have just offered up a hand grenade of his own.

We’ve known for a while that Manchin is not supportive of the $3.5 trillion cost of the Bernie Sanders-led, Joe Biden-backed budget bill. The West Virginia senator recently reconfirmed that commitment to some semblance of fiscal sanity via an op-ed that left many Democrats furious. But now, he’s going a step further by making it clear where the leverage in this situation lies.

While Pelosi and Schumer keep levying threats and arbitrary deadlines, Manchin has announced that he’s willing to walk altogether, saying Biden’s agenda can wait until 2022.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is privately saying he thinks Congress should take a “strategic pause” until 2022 before voting on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social-spending package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s new timeline — if he insists on it — would disrupt the plans by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to vote on the budget reconciliation package this month.

Now, while I’d love to tell you that Manchin is truly looking to leave the table until next year, I think this is much more of a brush-back pitch than an actual commitment to stop reconciliation from happening in 2021. In other words, I think this is Manchin signaling to Nancy Pelosi, who is dead-set on an end of September reconciliation vote, that she needs to slow down, pass the infrastructure package first, and understand that the far-left will have to let go of some of their hopes and dreams. From there, perhaps there’s some compromise that gets the reconciliation package down below $2 trillion with Democrats still getting 60% of what they want?

Yet, I’m not so sure that happens because of how militant the liberal faction is. What does Ilhan Omar have to gain by voting on a watered-down reconciliation package? That doesn’t raise her profile any. We know Bernie Sanders is going to continue to loudly object as well. If nothing gets done, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets to make the media rounds and claim Manchin kept her from saving the world, and we all know self-aggrandizement is a heady brew for far-left politicians.

In summary, whether we are talking House or Senate, you have two sides with no incentive to give in. Manchin no doubt wants to get something done, but he doesn’t want to commit career suicide in the process. I think that’s what this threat to leave the table until 2022 is all about. It’s a last-ditch effort to make Pelosi and Schumer understand that they are out of options here. They either side-line the radicals and play ball, or they get nothing.

That reality is running headlong into a promise made by Pelosi that she would not pass the infrastructure deal before a reconciliation package. But as I wrote weeks ago (see Nancy Pelosi Screwed up and People Are Starting to Realize It), the San Franciso liberal painted herself into a corner. We’ll see how she responds.