Progressive rep: 'Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell'

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) in an interview early Monday compared Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Biden seeks to quell concerns over climate proposals MORE (D-W.Va.) to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) for voicing opposition to legislation on voting rights.

"Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell," the progressive first-term lawmaker said during an appearance on CNN's "New Day." "Now Joe Manchin is doing everything in his power to stop democracy and stop our work for the people." 

In an op-ed published Sunday morning in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin, a conservative Democrat from a state that voted overwhelmingly for former President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE in the previous two presidential elections, announced he would vote against the For the People Act  a massive bill to overhaul elections in America. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I think it will divide us further. I don't want to be in a country divided any further than I'm in right now. I love my country, and I think my Democrat and Republican colleagues feel the same," Manchin said of his decision later on "Fox News Sunday." "If we continue to divide it and separate us more, it's not going to be united. It's not going to be the country that we love and know, and it's going to be hard because it'll be the back and forth, no matter who's in power." 

Bowman on Monday said Manchin's opposition to the bill is akin to rhetoric espoused during the Obama era by McConnell, who at the time boasted he would do everything in his power as the Republican leader to stop the White House's agenda.

"Manchin is not pushing us closer to bipartisanship, he's doing the work of the Republican Party by being an obstructionist, just like they've been since the beginning of Biden's presidency," Bowman said on CNN. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Manchin's decision leaves the fate of the voting rights legislation, which was passed by the Democratically controlled House, in serious jeopardy, with the Senate split evenly at 50-50. 

CNN host John Berman pressed Bowman on if the comparison to McConnell was "really fair," considering there is "no Democrat on Earth" outside of Manchin who could be a senator from West Virginia, saying, "If you didn't have Joe Manchin, there's almost zero chance you'd have a Democrat from West Virginia and zero chance you'd have control of the Senate." 

Bowman argued the legislation has broad support among all Americans, including in West Virginia, and among a majority of Republicans. 

The progressive lawmaker also took a shot at Manchin for comments he made recently saying he was "hopeful" more Republicans in the upper chamber will seek more bipartisan legislation, voting "for what's right and the facts as they see them, not worrying about the political consequences." 

"This is not about hope," Bowman said. "This is about doing the work ... it's easy for us to say what we're not going to vote for and not going to do ... it's much harder to do the work."