Democrat Senator Joe Manchin (WV) stunned political junkies watching CSPAN on Thursday night over his visible reaction to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to attack Senate Republicans during a floor speech after Republicans threw Schumer a lifeline and helped him out of a crisis over raising the debt ceiling.
“Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans insisted they wanted a solution to the debt ceiling, but said Democrats must raise it alone by going through a drawn out convoluted and risky reconciliation process,” Schumer said as Manchin looked on from behind shaking his head and putting his hands on his face in an apparent display of frustration. “That was simply unacceptable to my caucus.”
Schumer claimed that this would have been the “first ever Republican manufactured default on the national debt,” even though Senate Republicans have warned Schumer for months that Democrats would need to use the reconciliation process to increase the debt ceiling.
Schumer said that Republicans need to “stay out of the way and let Democrats address that debt limit ourselves,” which is precisely what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was allowing them to do by forcing them to use the reconciliation process to raise the debt limit.
Manchin fumed after Schumer’s stunt on the Senate floor, telling reporters, “I didn’t think it was appropriate at this time.”
“We had talked about that,” Manchin said. “But he felt charged up and he and I have good conversations.”
When asked why Schumer’s attacks on Republicans were not appropriate, Manchin said, “I just think that basically what we got to do is find the pathway forward and make sure that we de-weaponize; we have to de-weaponize. You can’t be playing politics; none of us can, on both sides, and both sides have been very guilty of this. The frustration was built up.”
Manchin said that the way that Schumer dealt with his frustration was “not the way to take it out” and that he would have handled it differently.
“You can fight about a lot of things, but you don’t throw this [inaudible], this is the most serious thing that we can do and we’re not going to do it anymore,” Manchin said. “We will not default and go through this again. We’ll work it out.”
Manchin suggested that the party could have used reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling, saying that he did not think that it would have hurt the party.
McConnell said this week that Democrats did not want to use the reconciliation process because “this relatively brief process would inconvenience their floor schedules.”
“Since mid-July, Republicans have clearly stated that Democrats will need to raise the debt limit on their own,” McConnell said in a letter to Biden this week. “All year, your party has chosen to pursue staggering, ‘transformational’ spending through unprecedented use of the party-line reconciliation process. Democrats inherited bipartisan trends from COVID relief to appropriations but have chosen to govern alone. Even now, with Americans already facing painful inflation, Democrats are preparing another staggering taxing and spending spree without any Republican input or support.”