Joe Biden, Politics, Biden Cabinet, Cabinets, Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin, Jon Tester

Joe Biden, Politics

Centrist Democrats flex muscles, create headaches for Biden

The Biden administration is getting pushback in Washington from an unexpected quarter. It’s moderates, not progressives, who are creating headaches for the Democratic president.

2/23/2021 1:58:00 AM

The Biden administration is getting pushback in Washington from an unexpected quarter. It’s moderates, not progressives, who are creating headaches for the Democratic president.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia is suddenly one of the most powerful people in Washington. Sen. Joe Manchin has had multiple one-on-one phone calls with...

WASHINGTON (AP) — A moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia is suddenly one of the most powerful people in Washington.Sen. Joe Manchin has had multiple one-on-one phone calls with President Joe Biden. He can send the White House into a tailspin with a single five-minute interview or three-sentence statement. And he may have already derailed some of the administration’s policy priorities and a Cabinet nominee.

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And it’s not just Manchin who’s wielding outsize influence over Biden’s agenda. With a 50-50 split in the Senate leaving little room for error on tough votes, other moderate Democrats like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana also hold significant political clout in Biden’s Washington, making for a muscular counterweight to the progressives who make up the party’s base.

ADVERTISEMENT“Each and every one of these members has the ability to be the king- or queen-maker on Capitol Hill,” said Jim Manley, a longtime aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “If they stick together, and flex their muscles — especially given the tight margins in both the House and the Senate — they can have a real impact.”

While Biden spent much of the 2020 Democratic primary and general election campaigns being hounded by progressives for not embracing far-left positions on everything from criminal justice to health care, his first month in office has won praise from some of his most prominent former antagonists on the left like Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Now it’s the moderates who are creating headaches for the Democratic president.Late last week, Manchin all but tanked the Biden administration’s nominee for Office of Management and Budget director, Neera Tanden, when he issued a brief statement opposing her nomination because of her controversial tweets attacking members of both parties. Tanden’s prospects for approval immediately sank. Political observers are also waiting to see if Manchin will support Surgeon General nominee Vivek Murthy, whom he opposed in 2014.

A few weeks back, Manchin created a stir when he publicly criticized Vice President Kamala Harris for doing a TV interview with a local West Virginia station that was seen as an effort to pressure him to support the COVID-19 bill. He received a call from the White House shortly after his complaint to try to smooth things over.

Manchin is one of a handful of centrist Democrats who have expressed skepticism about Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill, threatening to derail the president’s top priority if they don’t win concessions. Manchin, Sinema and Tester have all called for more targeted aid for Americans, and they, along with five other centrist Democrats and seven Republicans, all signed onto an amendment barring “upper-income taxpayers” from being eligible to receive stimulus checks.

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ADVERTISEMENT“The challenge here is, I don’t want to do too much, and I don’t want to do too little,” Tester said. “I want to make sure it’s targeted and justified.”Manchin and Sinema also oppose Biden’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, likely ensuring that it’s removed from the final COVID-19 bill even if the Senate parliamentarian rules it can be included. They’ve also both drawn the ire of progressives for their refusal to support eliminating the 60-vote threshold for approving most legislation, with one progressive group threatening to recruit primary challengers to oppose them.

Moderates are certain to influence the Biden administration’s next big legislative push as well, a major infrastructure and jobs bill that will include climate planks. Manchin and others from rural states want to see money commitments for rural infrastructure and investments to offset any oil and gas industry job losses.

Neither Manchin nor Sinema are seen as particularly vulnerable to a primary challenge. The political realities of a red-leaning state like West Virginia, or a purple state like Arizona, are in fact what guide the senators’ staunch centrism, says former Manchin chief of staff Chris Kofinis.

“Every one of these senators are still going to sit there and think, what do my constituents want? What do they need? And I think moderates in general tend to be much more sensitive to that because of the unique nature of politics in their states, which are by nature usually more divided,” Kofinis said.

The White House shares those political concerns.To defend and expand their majorities in the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats will need to win over suburban moderate voters in tough, Republican-leaning House districts and in states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio, where they hope to win statewide. Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia will also need to maintain support among moderate voters if they hope to win reelection in tough states.

Their significance to the final vote on the COVID-19 bill means some moderates are already getting extra attention from the White House.Biden has spoken to Manchin multiple times, according to a Manchin aide, including at least once right after the president was sworn in. Sometimes Manchin reaches out to the president, while sometimes the president reaches out to him.

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But moderates don’t always get — and aren’t always looking for — personal attention from the president.Some of those who come from deep-red states, where being seen as too cozy with a Democratic president would be politically problematic, avoid saying whether they’ve spoken to Biden at all.

Some, like Sinema and Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, say their staffs are in almost daily touch with the White House.“I suspect they have Joe Manchin on speed dial,” King joked. But he said the dynamic varies from member to member depending on where they stand on the COVID relief bill.

Tester said he’s not yet at the point where he’s looking for personal calls from the president because his staff members are the ones deeply involved in the details of the negotiations, and they’re in frequent contact with their White House counterparts.

But he was aware of the power he wields to get the president on the phone if he needs to.“I’m not going to ring his doorbell every time I have an urge to ring his doorbell,” he said. “I’m going to use that ability to contact him when it’s of highest value.”

Read more: The Associated Press »

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Manchin isn’t a “moderate”. JonLemire Ok. As a compromise just have the minimum wage law apply everywhere but Arizona and West Virginia until their legislatures petition that it be extended to them as well. The two “moderate” Dems get what they want, as does the rest of the country. Centrist?! Joe Manchin?! 😂😂😂😂. He is a right wing Dem.

Anyone surprised by this has been asleep for decades. “Moderates” have been pushing policy to the right since the 90’s. Where a big tint party. But this isn't the time for that Joe Lieberman bullshit, i realize some of our duly ELECTED officials represent some trump districts, but if those Constituents , block our decent agenda for this country then we dont need those seats .

Wow. What a surprise, that the rightwingers would be the problem. That's never happened before. tiggerificsoul This is such a stupid story. Biden is a centrist. Manchin etc are Dems in highly Rep voter saturated states. One size legislature is not going to fit all. These people need to get re-elected. Thinking that progressives can beat these people is ill advised

Yeah. Too bad he's blocking a centrist candidate, setting the stage for a democratic socialist one instead. I can see why the republicans do that, I cannot see why Manchin does. Moderates should listen to some Trump speeches for an hour, see if that puts things in perspective... _Politics When Republicans control the Senate, they ram through their agendas and get it done. When Democrats control the Senate, they break apart and want to 'reach' across the isle. Not being tough enough. I don't like McConnell, but he does gets things done for Republicans.

Hi AP, found an error in your tweet. See below for corrected version: “The Biden administration is getting pushback in Washington from an *expected* quarter. It’s moderates, not progressives” Moderate is not the term. They are conservatives and corporatists Guess they mixed up who was suppose to be the controlled opposition this year

_Politics If Ds want to hold the majority in the Senate in particular, never mind the House, they need to find a path to compromise with the moderate Ds. President Biden understands that. _Politics Who didn’t expect Manchin to try to flex? Anybody? Because the two-party system is a joke; two corrupt sides of the same worthless coin.

The Democratic Party is well defined on who we represent, and what we stand for like Country, honesty, integrity and diversity. Manchin appears to be conflicted with these principles, and acts more like an antebellum Democrat. I’m a conservative, but I’m a Democrat first. JonLemire unexpected my ass Virginia voted an idiot into office,they now want him to make smart moves🤷🏻‍♀️I suppose in a pandemic you get the leader you voted for 🤷🏻‍♀️🥴

MLK: 'I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's greatest stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate' 'Democrat', not 'Democratic'. It's a party. Some of those moderates know that with small business' struggling during the pandemic it's not the time for $15 an hour and so Biden's relief bill is sure to be voted down in the senate.

It requires having few 'provocateurs' in the party to remove the tendency of authoritarianism. Besides, they would defeat complaisance & pompousness in governing. We don't want to have another Trump in office. Minchen isn’t a moderate. He’s acting against his constituents’ wishes. What is it Munchin, enjoy being a minority? Is it easier on you being the ruled and not the ruler? Many of us are disappointed in you and can see little reason to support you. You make Trump smile.

Manchin's not moderate by any stretch of the imagination, sadly. He's a right winger who happens to have run as a Democrat. Crush them then, problem solved. Time to primary them into oblivion. Manchin is a moderate? I could not be more sick of Manchin's bullshit. Fk Sen_JoeManchin is not Real Democrat & Never will, He need to go, always Kiss The A$$ of SenateGOP, McConnell & Trump, He need to be Kick out from any US Senate Committee from SenateDems, He always Stop & Blocking The US Progress & Prosperity!

‘Centrist’ is doing a lot of work here This is my shocked expression He needs to get with it or get out JonLemire He may describe himself as a centrist but he knows where his bread is buttered. He objects to a woman of Indian descent and has 'doubts' about a Native American woman. Democrats are chauvinists too. Just like many of the people who elected him.

if dems don’t get their act together, expect a QAnon landslide in 2022... There's nothing they are opposing that anyone who is not a progressive might oppose. Targeted stimulus help, that's a good thing, some don't need it. The $15 minimum wage, doesn't make sense everywhere, so it should be discussed separately. 60 vote threshold should stay.

He's not a moderate his a Republican If Biden would just put the Sedition Caucus in prison where they belong, this wouldn’t be a problem for him. Today’s administration Moderates are just 'Republican lite'. If we expect to get anything done in the near future, we can't keep voting these guys in Unexpected from whom?

So... his own quarter. Got it. Manchin is not a democrat He just plays one on tv