Senate

Manchin decries ‘hostile’ political environment

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday decried what he called a “hostile working environment” in Washington, citing fierce partisanship among lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Manchin, during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” said it is difficult for members of different political parties to work together on legislation when they are expected to oppose one another during campaign season.

“You want to know what’s wrong with the place? I go to work in a hostile working environment every day. If you’re a Democrat, and a Republican is up for election, you’re supposed to be against that person,” Manchin told host John Berman.

“If Donald Duck’s running against that person, you’re supposed to get money from your PAC to help the other person beat the person that you’ve been working with. And even sometimes they’ll say, ‘can you come campaign against so and so?’ And then we come back on Monday, and here’s a person that we’ve given money against,” he added.

He suggested that it would be difficult for lawmakers to work together on crafting legislation after engaging in a fierce political battle.

The West Virginia senator’s comments came during a discussion about the difficulties he has faced when seeking bipartisanship.

Manchin for months has been at the center of several major battles in Washington, with the key moderate holding outsize power in the evenly split Senate as Democrats have pushed to advance parts of President Biden’s agenda.

The senator helped negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure bill and has pushed to trim Democrats’ multi-trillion dollar social spending and climate package, which the party is pushing to get to Biden’s desk.

 

On Thursday, Manchin seemed to criticize his colleagues for not working hard enough to reach across the aisle while in Washington, saying creating bipartisanship is something “you have to work at.”

“In today’s divided country, in divided government that we have, in divided politics that we have, you have to work a little bit harder. How many people did you see on the floor working and talking to both sides? How many times do you see that, John? Look out. Ask them how many times they’ve had coffee with each other. Ask them how many of them know each other’s wives or children or what their pleasures are, as far as sports or recreation?” Manchin said.

“Why don’t we find out who we are? Why don’t we talk to each other rather than talking through and over?” he added.

Manchin and Berman were discussing a moment on the Senate floor on Wednesday when the senator was spotted talking to his moderate colleague Sen. Kyrsten Sineman (D-Ariz.), in addition to Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and John Thune (S.D.).

Asked what the huddle was about, Manchin said he always “talk[s] to everybody,” adding “I always talk to my Republican friends, finding if there’s a pathway forward on anything.”

Tensions between both parties have been high as lawmakers spar over Biden’s agenda, with Democrats holding a slim majority in Congress. Circumstances reached a boiling point in September over raising the debt ceiling and funding the government, both of which were eventually achieved on a temporary basis.

Lawmakers are also looking ahead to the 2022 midterms, with Republicans hoping to take control of both chambers and Democrats seeking to strengthen their now-ultra-thin majorities. 

Manchin said Thursday the top reform he hopes to see in the future is an ethics law that bars members from campaigning against one another.

“If we ever do anything that changes this place, there should be an ethics law against us campaigning against each other. Against us, basically, sending money to the candidate against a sitting colleague,” Manchin said.

“These are people you’re working with. You have an obligation and responsibility to get something done, and you can’t get something done if you’re the enemy on the other side every time there’s an election,” he added.

Tags Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Thune Mitch McConnell

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