Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who is soon to become a key swing vote for the Democrats in the United States Senate, told PBS’s “Firing Line” that Congress should consider using the 14th Amendment’s section 3, which provides a way for Congress to expel one of its own, to punish Republicans who objected to certifying the Electoral College vote.
Manchin made the statement specifically in regard to Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), who were the first to agree to raise objections to certifying certain states’ Electoral College votes in the Senate — an extreme position akin to that taken by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Asked whether he’d consider using the 14th Amendment as a potential remedy for Republican malfeasance, Manchin said he was open to the possibility and that Cruz, particularly, should expect it.
“That should be a consideration,” he said. “[Ted Cruz] understands that. Ted’s a very bright individual, and I get along fine with Ted, but what he did was totally outside of the realm of our responsibilities or our privileges.”
The 14th Amendment’s section 3 provides that Congress can expel any member that “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [United States], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” A member may be expelled on a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress — no easy task.
Although Democrats and media figures have tried to tie both Hawley and Cruz to the riots that overtook the Capitol on January 6th, both legislators are mostly responsible for leading a Congressional charge to question vote totals in key states, like Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
And although Hawley and Cruz were responding to President Donald Trump’s largely unsubstantiated claims of widespread vote fraud when they lodged their complaint — the same claims that, reportedly, motivated the rioters — they are hardly the first members of Congress to raise objections to an Electoral College vote. No less than The New York Times noted that Democrats were quick to object to key states’ results in 2000, 2004, and in 2016, when President Donald Trump won election over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), was the first legislator to officially raise the prospect of using the 14th Amendment in a statement made last week, but Pelosi was not looking to begin the process. Rather, the Speaker suggested she was looking for input on whether Congress could pursue such an action if a Congressional lawmaker were found to have actively aided and abetted the Capitol Hill rioters; in a speech Friday, she seemed to lean more toward filing criminal charges against complicit members of Congress.
Manchin’s support for using the 14th Amendment is notable, though. With the Senate evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, moderates like Manchin will likely become key to passing any legislation, particularly if Democrats do away with the Senate filibuster, as they’ve regularly discussed. If Manchin can be convinced to use more extreme measures to address the Capitol Hill riots, Democrats may be more likely to pursue such avenues.
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