Here’s the Senate’s Let America Rot Caucus

Something else I don’t want to write about any more is Joe Manchin. Maybe if we all close our eyes and make a wish he’ll disappear.

He was back on the Sunday talk shows explaining, badly, why he will try to eviscerate the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill. Do read Joe Downie, Joe Manchin’s Selfishness, about Manchin’s malicious, destructive obstinance. I want to quote just this part:

new report from Type Investigations and the Intercept on the coal companies that made his fortune found that “for decades,” Manchin’s coal firms “have relied on mines and refuse piles cited for dozens of Mine Safety and Health Agency violations, multiple deaths, and wastewater discharging that has poisoned tributaries feeding into the Monongahela River, as hundreds of thousands of tons of carcinogenic coal ash are dumped across Marion County.”

While Manchin doesn’t own the mines and power plants polluting the state, his businesses have benefited handsomely from them. Since he joined the Senate 10 years ago, the investigation found, he has “grossed more than $4.5 million” from his firms, according to financial disclosures. As the article notes, Manchin has said his ownership interest is held in a blind trust.

No doubt Manchin would bristle at the suggestion that his opposition to the reconciliation bill and its climate provisions would have anything to do with their impact on his personal wealth. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, though, the theme remains the same: Manchin gets his, while everyone else can fend for themselves.

Naturally he doesn’t see any big rush in preparing infrastructure for climate change.

Brigid Kennedy, The Week:

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who has previously referred to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as “the new Mitch McConnell,” took aim at the West Virginia lawmaker once again Monday morning, this time for his refusal to back Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package at its current cost.

“When we talk about a sense of urgency, people are losing their lives and their livelihoods right now because our infrastructure is 100-years-old and climate change is here to stay,” said Bowman on CNN’s New Day, recalling the damage Hurricane Ida wrecked on his district and constituents. “So it’s important for Senator Manchin and others to understand people are dying everyday … and we have to go big right now in this moment. It’s now or never when it comes to infrastructure and climate change, and Hurricane Ida proved that to be true.”

When asked what happens if Manchin holds firm on his price tag concerns, Bowman reminded host John Berman that “we still have a couple of weeks to get this worked out,” adding that “it’s important for the American people to know that this is the Democratic agenda in terms of Democratic leadership.”

That’s a hard message to get across, however, in the absence of any real legislative achievement.

Another charter Democratic member of the Let America Rot caucus, Kyrsten Sinema, has been relatively quiet for about the past three weeks. It may have finally gotten through to her that she was pissing constituents off, although possibly not enough for her to change her position on reconciliation bill or the filibuster. She’s not pissing off Mitch McConnell, however. Mitch recently said of Manchin and Sinema, “I pray for them every night, I wish them well, we give them lots of love.” So sweet.

I don’t know that the Senate Let America Rot caucus has any other firm Democratic members. (All Republicans are in on it, of course.) Sen. Mark Warner recently said he was considering voting against it, but that’s because he wants more money added for housing assistance. I can support that. But that also shows us there will be a lot of work to do to get the thing done.

Progressives are still staying they’ll kill the smaller bipartisan bill if the larger bill fails. I’m also seeing a lot of commentary saying that Manchin just wants some kind of cut out of the bill he can take “credit” for, and then he’ll vote for it. The question is, of course, how much? Conventional wisdom says Sinema will buckle if she’s the only opponent left. We’ll see.

Sinema and Manchin