Senator Joe Manchin, the man to see: A conversation with Brit Hume
With Democrats in the White House and in the majority of the House and Senate, the most conservative Democrat in an evenly divided Senate is the power broker to see, especially with the items heading up the Biden administration’s stated agenda. As always when we need the perspective of a wise political insider, we asked Mr. Brit Hume to offer his insight.
CM: Based on Sen. Manchin’s voting record, he will bounce back and forth between being loved and hated by both parties. Democrats are infamous for their bloodletting when one of their own steps out of line, so how do you believe they will treat him when he breaks ranks? With kid gloves? Or their usual attacks?
Mr. Hume: If they have any sense, his colleagues will treat him carefully. They are likely to need him again and again on numerous close votes.
CM: What key issues do you think the Democrats will attempt to pass that Sen. Manchin will be willing to block?
Mr. Hume: If he votes to preserve the filibuster, he won’t have to vote to block many; the 60-vote threshold will take care of that. He might be under pressure to break ranks on certain tax and spending measures that can be done with only 51 votes. A lot will depend on how such measures affect his state.
CM: Before this election, Sen. Manchin had the luxury of “blending in,” without his votes making too much of difference. Now, his every vote will be national news, and headline news in West Virginia. How do you think this will influence his conservative v. liberal voting?
Mr. Hume: He will vote with his party where his constituents won’t be noticeably harmed or where there isn’t a big groundswell at home against the Democratic position.
CM: Joe Biden’s views on energy and industry are at odds with most of the voters in West Virginia, and he seems to be “all in” with the Green New Deal. How will the senator walk that tightrope?
Mr. Hume: On energy issues, he will be willing to break ranks, and his Democratic colleagues are likely to cut him a lot of slack. Members tend to get leeway on measures near and dear to their constituents.
CM: In our last interview you predicted that the Republican party post-Trump would be stricter on immigration. Sen. Manchin has historically been more conservative in that arena as well. What do you see his position being on Biden’s immigration reform package?
Mr. Hume: It all depends on whether that measure becomes highly controversial at home. If so, he might go against it. He might be protected, though, by the filibuster, which would keep the matter from even coming up for debate and a vote.
CM: Manchin has said, “It’s all about the economy.” He includes issues like workplace safety and health care that covers preexisting conditions and the jobs associated in part with the Affordable Care Act. Do you see Manchin being able to garner Republican support for Biden’s stated goal to strengthen the ACA?
Mr. Hume: I can imagine a scenario where he could side with the GOP on something else to get some Republicans to help out on health care matters, but I think it’s unlikely. If it happened, we might never find out. Such log-rolling is typically a behind-the-scenes event.
CM: What is the chance Sen. Manchin gets so fed up with Majority Leader Schumer’s well-known bully tactics that he switches parties? Is that just a GOP pipedream?
Mr. Hume: He has that option and the leadership knows it, and that will give him a lot of leverage against any strong-arm stuff by Schumer.
Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for the Fox News Channel (FNC). He has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2003 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism from the National Press Foundation and a 1991 Emmy Award for his coverage of the Gulf War. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Mr. Hume resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Kim Schiller Hume.