Here's why Manchin, Romney and Collins are about to wield serious Senate power

Here's why Manchin, Romney and Collins are about to wield serious Senate power
© Greg Nash

Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffBiden to keep Wray as FBI director Biden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis Angus King warns of 'grave danger' of Trump revealing classified information MORE. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez spent inauguration evening supporting striking workers in New York Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation MORE. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellSwalwell compares Trump to bin Laden: They 'inspired and radicalized' Pelosi names 9 impeachment managers House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump MORE. Stacey Abrams: These are the ubiquitous media darlings of the left. 

Reps. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Swalwell (D-Calif.) alone have conducted hundreds of interviews during the Trump era, mainly to talk about the president’s ties to Russia without evidence. AOC has released countless videos on social media during that time to her 20 million Twitter and Instagram followers. Abrams – who also took major issue with elections in Georgia while claiming her 2018 gubernatorial run was stolen from her – has yet to concede in downright Trumpian defiance but isn't accused by the press of tearing down democracy. Funny how that works. 

Moderates in both parties, conversely, don't seem to get the same kind of ink and airtime. Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseSenate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Pompeo labels China's treatment of Uighurs 'genocide' MORE (R-Neb.) is a good example of a moderate who doesn't run to a microphone or his phone to share every thought on any topic going through his head. Same with Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Limbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief MORE (R-Maine) or Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' MORE (R-Alaska) or Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief Democrats shoot down McConnell's filibuster gambit Democrats torn on impeachment trial timing MORE (D-W.V.) or Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief GOP senator calls Biden's COVID-19 relief plan a 'non-starter' MORE (R-Utah). All speak to the press on occasion, much to MAGA Trump supporters’ chagrin, but aren't exactly Kardashian-esque in their (over) exposure.  


But after what appears to be a Democratic sweep of two runoffs in the formerly deep-red state of Georgia, it won't be the loudest voices on either side of the aisle who have more power, but the aforementioned moderates. In the House, as we saw with Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 On The Money: Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief | Biden faces backlash over debt | 900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits MORE's (D-Calif.) razor-thin re-election victory as speaker, which required a reckless Pelosi allowing two Democratic House members who tested positive for COVID-19 to vote in person, the Blue Team's majority is almost non-existent (222-211, the smallest spread since World War II). 

In the Senate, same deal, where we’re looking at a 50-50 split with Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris takes up temporary residence at Blair House Amanda Gorman captures national interest after inauguration performance Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair MORE serving as the tiebreaker. But know this: The assumption that either party will be in complete, unanimous lockstep is a farcical one.   

Romney and Collins and especially Manchin will have unprecedented leverage. In a related story, Manchin has sided with the GOP more often than Democrats would like. He has voiced fierce opposition to the AOC-led defund-the-police movement. He once proclaimed he would oppose "crazy stuff" such as expansion of the Supreme Court and eliminating the filibuster, which by extension would dash any hope of expansion of the Senate through D.C. statehood. And without Manchin on board for those big-ticket items, or Romney or Collins or Murkowski defecting (which isn't happening on those issues), the Senate never even gets to that tie-breaking vote by the vice president. 

“I think we have a golden opportunity to bring the country back together and for us to work in the middle,” Manchin recently told the New York Times. “I’ll tell you the reason why: The numbers are so close with what the Democratic House members lost. For Nancy Pelosi, she’s going to have to work with people that have a more moderate view than some of the people that pushed her from the left.”  

“It behooves everybody to start working together,” Manchin continued. “If they don’t, it doesn’t take many of us to say, ‘Guys, we’ve given all of you a chance. We haven’t done our job for the last 10 years, and we’re going to start.’”  


Yep. And according to Mark PennMark PennPoll: Most Americans want legislation governing social media policies Poll: Majority of voters want Trump barred from running for office again Majority say Biden's top priorities should be coronavirus vaccine rollout, stimulus: poll MORE, managing director of the Stagwell Group and chairman of the Harris Poll, despite the tribal food fights we see so often on cable news, the silent majority of Americans want compromise. 

"Overwhelming majorities want to see more of it and less grandstanding," Penn, who served as chief strategist on Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMcConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' The Memo: Biden strives for common ground after Trump turmoil MORE’s 1996 presidential campaign and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSamantha Power's Herculean task: Turning a screw with a rubber screwdriver Beau Biden Foundation to deny lobbyist donations, make major donors public Whoopi Goldberg wears 'my vice president' shirt day after inauguration MORE’s 2008 presidential campaign, told me regarding the appetite for compromise. 

The sentiment is expanded upon in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed in which Penn writes that the country is more moderate to center-right than traditional media portrays it to be.

"Only 24 percent of voters identify as liberal, while 38% say they’re conservative, according to CNN exit polls," Penn notes. "Another 38 percent are moderate. Despite the widespread publicity given the left, since 2014—a good year for Republicans—the percentage of self-identified liberals declined 2 points, while the share of conservatives increased 3 points. 

"Yes — a visitor from outer space watching our media would think we are 75 percent liberal or all like D.C. or Hollywood," Penn explained to me in summary. "They would be shocked to learn 76 percent of Americans are moderate or conservative." 

You may see lots of the Schiffs and the Swalwells and Ocasio-Cortezes in the media. 

Those folks may have the passion. But they won't have the power. What happens next will likely mean a further fracturing of both parties. Because compromise may be embraced by the electorate but is also increasingly a dirty word in the D.C. swamp and political media that are built on conflict. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill and a Fox News contributor.