Joe Manchin: When Campaign Finance and Obstruction Meet

The senator from West Virginia's obstruction to the Biden administration's agenda is long-standing and far from an accident.

By now, most Americans know who Joe Manchin is. His consistent opposition to Democratic reforms and his refusal to reject the filibuster has made him famous on both sides of the aisle. He is, however, one of the biggest points of frustration for Democrats, as his refusal to support getting rid of the filibuster has all but stopped major reforms from being implemented. And none of it is surprising.

Despite having the label of ‘democrat,’ Joe Manchin is anything but that. His state, West Virginia, went for Trump by 68 percent compared to 29 percent for Biden. He’s arguing for a delay in negotiations for a key infrastructure bill just before the midterms and has tried to delay negotiations on the bill multiple times before that. He may have a ‘D’ next to his name, but a democrat, he is not.

Of course, someone like Manchin doesn’t merely throw away money for his state without reason. Manchin does have such a reason, though he doesn’t want to admit what that is.

As the number one recipient of their donations in the Senate, Manchin has strong ties to the oil, gas, and coal industries, per data from Open Secrets. His connections are so prevalent that Keith McCoy, Exxon’s senior director of federal relations, bragged that he had regular access to the senator, saying:

“Joe Manchin ― I talk to his office every week. He is the kingmaker, and he’s not shy about staking his claim early and completely changing the debate….”

The unfortunate reality is that Manchin, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has a significant influence over what gets passed. Especially when it relates to climate policy and infrastructure, that is why Manchin is such a good investment for the fossil fuel industry.

If things go according to plan, the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion bill would require all utilities to stop burning fossil fuel and make the transition to greener sources of energy. The same bill that Manchin wants to delay past the midterm election will have no chance of being passed.

One need not delve into the abyss of political intrigue to understand what is happening here. Despite winning reelection in 2018, Manchin failed to gain a majority of the vote, winning by a measly 3.3 percent of the vote. His chances for reelection are growing slim as West Virginia shifts to the right, and in that environment, a senator can be influenced by those with the money to support him. Hence his continued refusal to support the climate change reforms we all need to see.

Whatever happens next with Manchin, remember that he is not looking for a future for the Democratic party or his fellow Americans; he is looking to keep faith with his donors and the coal moguls who would leave this country with nothing left but ruin.

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