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Tag: joe manchin

West Virginia Steelworkers Accuse Manchin Of 'Turning His Back' On Them

Ed Barnette long ago realized that affordable child care and paid sick leave, among other resources, would be essential to helping West Virginians build better lives and save what’s left of the middle class.

He just never expected that when America was finally on the cusp of providing these essentials, West Virginia’s Democratic senator would join pro-corporate Republicans in blocking the way.

But that’s exactly what happened. In thwarting the Build Back Better legislation, Senator Joe Manchin turned his back on the working families whose support catapulted him to power in the first place.

“It’s almost like he forgot where his roots are,” fumed Barnette, president of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5668, which represents hundreds of workers at the Constellium plant in Ravenswood, West Virginia. “He comes from a blue-collar state. When you say ‘West Virginia,’ the first thing you picture is a worker with a hard hat.”

“Surely, he won’t do it,” Barnette recalled saying to himself in the days before Manchin decided to withhold his vote and block the bill. “He did, and I just thought, ‘Damn it! You’re supposed to be working for us.’”

Barnette rejoiced last fall when Congress passed a historic, $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Like other states, West Virginia urgently needs improvements to its roads and bridges, schools and airports, energy systems, locks and dams, and communications networks.

But Barnette understands that the infrastructure legislation will have the biggest impact—and create the greatest number of manufacturing and construction jobs—only in conjunction with the $2 trillion Build Back Better bill.

Build Back Better would provide access to affordable child care and pave the way for more parents, especially more single parents, to enter the workforce. It would ensure workers receive up to four weeks of paid family medical leave, so they could battle life’s challenges while continuing to support their families.

And it would provide universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds, putting all of America’s children on the road to productive lives.

“It will do nothing but help the working people and middle class of West Virginia,” said Barnette, citing West Virginia’s high poverty rate and population loss.

Just as important, Build Back Better would boost funding at the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), positioning the agency to better address safety risks workers face every day as well as crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other enhancements, the additional resources would enable the agency to hire more inspectors so the agency can investigate additional complaints, develop new safety standards and save lives.

Build Back Better also would increase the penalties that employers face for violations, making them more likely to address hazards proactively. The current low penalties merely encourage corporations to risk workers’ lives.

“I definitely think we need a stronger OSHA,” Barnette said. “It’s the difference between life and death with some employers.”

In addition, the legislation would incentivize the development of emerging industries, like clean energy and electric vehicle production, that would help to revitalize American manufacturing, create good-paying jobs and better position the nation to lead the world economy.

Whether it’s assembling electric vehicles, making batteries or manufacturing the components for solar panels, West Virginia has union workers with the work ethic and enthusiasm to get these industries up and running, noted Dallas Elswick, a former chemical worker and USW member from Nitro, West Virginia.

"The union workers made this country,” Elswick said. “Everybody knows that. And there’s a need for development here. There’s a big need.”

The House passed Build Back Better in November. The bill needed the support of all 48 Democrats and two Independents to pass the Senate, so President Joe Biden and congressional leaders worked tirelessly to get Manchin on board.

Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate majority leader, repeatedly spoke with him. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked with him, too.

Biden spoke with Manchin by phone and had him over to the White House. Biden also went so far as to host Manchin at his Delaware home to talk through the transformative nature of the bill, even though the legislation’s potential to level the playing field for working Americans is clear for all to see.

He abandoned single parents, unable to afford child care, to poverty. He threw seniors, struggling to pay for prescriptions and health care, under the bus. He slammed the door on workers eager for new industries and jobs.

Barnette and Elswick are among millions in West Virginia and around the country calling on Manchin to do the right thing and embrace Build Back Better.

“We may not get an opportunity to do this ever again,” Elswick said of the sweeping changes offered by Build Back Better. “For him to do what he did is unbelievable.”

Tom Conway is the international president of the United Steelworkers Union (USW).

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.T

To Honor King's Legacy, Biden Continues Push For Voting Rights

By Andrea Shalal

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - President Joe Biden traveled to Philadelphia on Sunday to honor the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., as he continues to press for voting rights legislation and concerted action to combat rising extremism.

Biden's visit to the "City of Brotherly Love" comes hours after an FBI hostage rescue team stormed a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, to free three hostages after a more than 10-hour standoff. Another hostage had been freed earlier.

The president, who was briefed on the crisis as it unfolded, said there was more to learn about what motivated the hostage-taker, but pledged to "stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country."

Biden and first lady Jill Biden are volunteering at Philabundance, a hunger relief organization in Philadelphia, to mark Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

In a proclamation on Friday, Biden warned against complacency and said it was crucial to continue King's work by enacting legislation to protect voting rights, opposing the rise of white supremacism and other forms of extremism, and pressing for greater economic justice.

"Living up to his legacy, and what Dr. King believed our Nation could become, requires more than just reflection -- it requires action," Biden said in the proclamation.

"That is why the Congress must pass Federal legislation to protect the right to vote -- a right that is under attack by a sinister combination of voter suppression and election subversion. We must confront the scourge of racism and white supremacy -- a stain on our Nation -- and give hate no safe harbor in America."

But Biden's push to enact voting rights legislation appears doomed after Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin said they opposed changing the Senate's filibuster rule, which requires that 60 of the 100 senators agree on most legislation, in a chamber where Democrats now hold only 50 seats.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer still plans to begin debate on the voting rights legislation on Tuesday. If Republicans block that bill as anticipated, Schumer said he was still prepared to seek a change in the Senate's filibuster rule to win passage. But given Sinema and Manchin's stance, efforts to change the filibuster appear doomed to fail.

Biden told reporters on Thursday he was not certain the bill could pass now but vowed to keep trying.

"One thing for certain: Like every other major civil rights bill that came along, if we miss the first time, we can come back and try it a second time. We missed this time."

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a voting bill on Thursday. But Democrats cannot overcome universal Republican opposition in the Senate without changing the filibuster.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Leslie Adler)

BREAKING: Poll Shows Americans Support Biden On Protecting Voting Rights

President Biden followed up his rousing and robust speech denouncing former President Trump's involvement in the January 6th insurrection with an even more full-throated speech in Atlanta on the importance of voting rights. He explained in full why Democrats must do everything to protect them, including gutting the Jim Crow-era filibuster rule.

The president took thinly veiled shots at Republicans and the two so-called "moderate" Democrats -- Senator Jooe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) -- in his fiery speech delivered on Tuesday in Georgia, a state he shockingly won in 2020.

"Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” he declared, prompting some gasps from supporters in the audience. “Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”

Disgustingly enough, Republicans had the audacity to call out President Biden for a lack of civility while they not only continue to support a man who turned the presidency into a pro wrestling match but also nearly destroyed our republic. Somehow think wanting to ensure that minorities are not disenfranchised somehow manifests incivility.

But none of their pointless partisan attacks matter when considering that a majority of Americans are fully behind the President on voting rights.

According to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, voting rights have broad American support, including even among Republican voters. Here's how the poll breaks down:

  • Expanding access to early voting: 65% support, 23% oppose
  • Prohibiting partisan gerrymandering: 64% support, 19% oppose
  • Making it illegal to prevent someone from registering to vote: 62% support, 24% oppose
  • Making Election Day a federal holiday: 61% support, 26% oppose
  • Expanding same-day voter registration: 56% support, 30% oppose
  • Expanding access to voting by mail: 55% support, 35% oppose
  • Allowing Americans with prior criminal convictions to vote: 54% support, 32% oppose
  • Expanding automatic voter registration: 51% support, 33% oppose

But standing in the way of this broad-based support is some irrelevant thing known as the filibuster -- which stands in the way of Democrats getting anything done that actually helps the American people, rather than big political donors and coal barons. Now one might think an arcane Senate rule would have no impact on the American people. The Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 40 percent of Americans believe bills should be able to pass with 51 votes, whereas 41 percent think it should take 60. That's a remarkable look at just how undemocratic the filibuster is and why it needs to go, and why Manchin and Sinema need to stop pumping the bizarre myth that Americans somehow love and cherish this tool of obstruction.


Warning Against Autocracy, Biden Urges Senate To Drop Filibuster, Pass Voting Rights

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

President Joe Biden implored the Senate to reject the filibuster rule and pass landmark voting rights legislation on Tuesday, saying that recent efforts by pro-Trump Republicans to suppress voters and subvert the popular vote were out of step with American history.

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will make a turning point in this nation’s history,” Biden said, speaking at Atlanta University Center in Georgia. “The issue is will we choose democracy over autocracy? Light over shadow? Justice over injustice? I know where I stand… The question is where will the institution of the United States Senate stand?”

“There’s one thing every senator, every American should remember,” Biden continued. “History has never been kind to those who sided with voter suppression over voters’ rights… It will be less kind to those who side with election subversion. So I ask every elected official in America, how do you want to be remembered? The consequential moments in history present a choice.”

Biden’s Tuesday speech was his most forceful yet in support of passing sweeping new federal legislation that would fortify the right to vote after a decade where Republican-majority state legislatures and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed majority have acted in their respective spheres to roll back voting options and federal authority to defend voting.

There are two bills before the Senate. The Freedom to Vote Act, would, among its provisions, blunt state-led efforts to restrict mail-in or absentee voting—a widespread response to 2020’s most popular way that Democrats voted, make Election Day a holiday, and block redistricting that dilutes minority representation. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the Justice Department’s authority under the Voting Rights Act to overrule new laws or procedures that limit participation in jurisdictions with histories of electoral discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court eviscerated the Justice Department’s enforcement powers in 2013.

The bills have repeatedly passed the House but have run into roadblocks in the Senate, where the Republicans have not even allowed debate to begin. Biden said that intransigence, as well as the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes for a debate to proceed, have degraded the body’s character and held voting rights hostage to a power-hungry minority.

“The filibuster is not used by Senate Republicans to bring the Senate together but to pull it further apart,” Biden said. “The filibuster has been weaponized and abused. While the state legislative assault on voting rights is simple; all you need in your [state] house and senate is a pure majority [to pass bills.] In the United States Senate, it takes a supermajority, 60 votes, even to get a vote.”

“State legislators can pass anti-voting laws with simple majorities,” he continued. “If they can do that, then the United States Senate should be able to protect voting rights by a simple majority. Today, I’m making it clear, to protect our democracy I support changing the Senate rules—whichever way they need to change—to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights.”

It is unclear whether Biden will be able to convince the foremost Democratic holdouts, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, to carve out an exception in the Senate’s filibuster rules for voting rights legislation. The White House hopes to force the issue by next Monday, January 17, which is the federal holiday honoring civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Earlier in his speech Biden said pro-Trump legislators, in statehouses and Congress, were bent on taking the country into an era where authoritarian rule would overshadow representative democracy. He explicitly accused the GOP’s Trump faction of resurrecting white supremacy.

“Jim Crow 2.0 is about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion,” Biden said. “It’s no longer about who gets to vote [the mid-20th century’s struggle centered around voter registration]. It’s about making it harder to vote. It’s about who gets to count the vote, and whether your vote counts at all.”

“It’s not hyperbole. This is a fact,” he continued. “Look, this matters to all of us. The goal of the former president and his allies is to disenfranchise anyone who votes against them; simple as that. The facts won’t matter. Your vote won’t matter. They’ll just decide what they want, and then do it. That’s the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not in democracies.”

Schumer Gives Sternest Warning On Democracy Yet To Manchin And Sinema

Between January 1 and December 7,” an end-of-year analysis by the Brennan Center says, “at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting.” The emphasis is in the original because it needs to be emphasized. There were 440 bills introduced in 49 states last year to restrict voting, at least 88 of which will carry on into 2022 legislative sessions. Ominously, the Brennan Center identifies a “new trend” in 2021: “legislators introduced bills to allow partisan actors to interfere with election processes or even reject election results entirely.”

This is an “alarming and unprecedented attack on our democracy,” as the Brennan Center says, and that it followed a violent, physical attack on our democracy at the Capitol on January 6 is even more alarming. Hundreds of Republican lawmakers around the country watched what happened on January 6 and instead of rejecting the assault in horror, they decided they had to figure out how to legalize it, codify it. All 50 of the U.S. Senate Republicans are tacitly approving that response, even though they were among the literal targets of the January 6 rioters. Just one, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, has signaled a willingness to possibly consider congressional action to preserve democracy.

Those 50 Republicans can stick together under the cover of two Democratic senators: Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia's Joe Manchin. Traditional media is almost entirely ignoring the fact that those 50 Republican senators are subverting democracy by refusing to protect it—including the eight who voted to overturn election results after the attack, after their lives were endangered by the mob Trump sicced on them. They’re let off the hook because Sinema and Manchin, for whatever reasons of their own, have been using their 15 minutes of fame to do so.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling an end to all that, and soon. “Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy,” he told his colleagues in a letter Monday. “We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.”

On the floor Tuesday, he reiterated that, framing the question in the anniversary of the January 6 attacks and the efforts by Republicans in the states to undermine the sanctity of our elections.

“If Republicans continue to hijack the rules of the chamber to prevent action on something as critical as protecting our democracy,” Schumer continued, “then the Senate will debate and consider changes to the rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”

A number of Democratic senators including Virginia’s Tim Kaine, Montana’s Jon Tester, and independent Angus King from Maine have been working on Manchin for weeks, including over the Christmas break. Those talks are still continuing, though it’s not clear they’re making any dent.

Manchin told reporters Tuesday morning that he’s having “good conversations” and does recognize “the need for us to protect democracy as we know it.” They’ve gotten that far at least. He said, “I’m talking, I’m not agreeing to any of this,” by which he meant the various possibilities for filibuster reform. He wants bipartisan support for it, saying it’s his “absolute preference.” Which is moving the goal post out of the solar system. Even he has to be cognizant of that fact.

Manchin is also remaining willfully ignorant of the facts on Senate rules. “Once you change rules or have a carve out—I’ve always said this: Anytime there’s a carve out, you eat the whole turkey because it comes back. So you want things that’ll be sustainable.” The Senate just last month created a one-time carve-out in the ridiculously convoluted process they followed to raise the debt ceiling. There have been at least 161 exceptions to the filibuster created since 1969, and the Senate is still in business. Massively dysfunctional, yes, but still standing.

Sinema, as usual, isn’t talking right now. Whether that means she’s not engaging with her colleagues on the issue, whether they’re even trying to engage with her, isn’t clear. Through a spokesperson, she reiterated her opposition to changing the filibuster even though she says she is supportive of both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. There seems to be a general sense among Democrats that Manchin is who they need to get, and that Sinema won’t want to stand alone in opposition.

We’ll find out in the next few weeks.

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Biden, Manchin Had Long Chat About Spending Bill After Manchin Killed It

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden and Senator Joe Manchin spoke about the "Build Back Better" bill a day after the conservative Democratic senator publicly rejected the president's social spending plans, a White House adviser said on Friday.

"He (Biden) has some confidence about that (bill), including discussions he has had with Senator Manchin," Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House council of economic advisers, said in an interview with CNN on Friday.

"The president and Senator Manchin - the day after that announcement where the senator said he couldn't vote for the bill as it was - they were talking again."

Manchin, a conservative Democratic senator, rejected the president's Build Back Better plan earlier this month in a move that imperils the legislation.

Manchin's move prompted investment bank Goldman Sachs to lower its forecasts for U.S. economic growth. Manchin's rejection of the bill threatened to scuttle hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for measures to fight climate change and meet the Biden administration's climate goals.

Manchin has expressed concerns about a number of proposals in Biden's signature domestic policy bill, including multiple climate proposals and extending monthly child tax credit payments.

Biden told reporters after Manchin's rejection that he and the senator were "going to get something done" on the legislation.

Manchin's support is crucial in the Senate chamber where the Democrats have the slimmest margin of control and Republicans are united in their opposition to the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said the chamber would vote on a package in early 2022.

U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, a leading liberal House Democrat, has asked Biden to continue focusing on the social spending legislation and urged him to use executive action despite Manchin's public rejection of the plan.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Louise Heavens and Alex Richardson)

Obsessing Over Manchin, Media Whitewash GOP's Rabid Obstruction

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

For the second day running, the New York Times on Tuesday ran a front-page piece about Sen. Joe Manchin’s announcement that he would vote against the landmark, $2 trillion education, healthcare and climate package known as Build Back Better, thereby sinking chances of the legislation passing through an evenly divided, 50-50 U.S. Senate.

Leaning heavily into the Dems in Disarray narrative, the Times depicted a Democratic Party beset by public disputes and a president whose domestic agenda was in tatters. But like virtually all of the coverage this week, the Times ignored the role that radical GOP obstruction has played in the Build Back Better story.

For the print edition, the Times headline read, “Biden Seeks to Save his Domestic Policy Agenda from a Defection.” Note the “a” in the headline, and how Manchin’s single ‘no’ meant “Democrats engaged in new bouts of infighting.” CNN also piled on the doom this week: “It's hard to dream up a worse scenario for Democrats.”

What’s been erased is the big picture — why did losing a single Democratic senator become tantamount to imploding the $2 trillion deal? Why in the U.S. Senate, which compared to the House is known for deal-making and at least occasionally working across the aisle, did one defection kill the sprawling bill, especially when the pending legislation is so popular with the public? In more normal times, if Biden lost Manchin’s support he’d be able to pick up one or two Republicans who would support Build Back Better.

He cannot though, because of the GOP’s unprecedented obstruction, in which the party stands united against Biden — no matter what.

The press in recent years has completely normalized the Republicans’ unheard-of worldview, to the point where virtually all of the Build Back Better coverage ignores the fact it’s 50 Republicans who are dooming legislation that would create a universal prekindergarten program, subsidize child care costs, lower prescription-drug costs, and offer tax credits for reducing carbon emissions.

For news consumers today awash in Manchin and Build Back Better coverage, Republicans simply do not exist. They’re depicted — if at all — as innocent bystanders whose actions play no role in any of this.

The Times gently noted in passing that, “With Republicans united in opposing the legislation, Democrats needed the votes of all 50 senators who caucus with their party for the measure to pass in an evenly divided Senate.”Talk about whitewashing radical GOP behavior. Refusing to portray Republicans for the hardcore extremists they are, news outlets also fail to connect the dots between the entire GOP opposing Build Back Better after the entire GOP opposed Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that sent $1,400 checks to most Americans and hundreds of billions more to help open schools, which Republicans then tried to take credit for.

Inside the Beltway last winter, the Covid bill was depicted as being divisive because no Republican members of Congress supported it, even though the legislation enjoyed massive public support, even among Republican voters. As is custom with the D.C. media, the entire onus of bipartisanship is placed on Democrats, who are responsible for breaking the Capitol fever. The fact that the Republican Party acts in a way that defies all historic norms is politely set aside.

We saw that on display this spring when the country was rocked yet again by a wave of uniquely American mass gun shootings. The plague continues because of Republicans and their blind allegiance to the NRA. They exacerbate the crisis by blocking gun reform laws while simultaneously loosening ownership restrictions and helping to flood the country with firearms. Yet how many headlines did we see that read "Republicans Still Oppose All Gun Reform In Wake of Mass Murders"? Instead, there was lots of coverage about how "Congress" can't pass gun laws, and how there's "gridlock.” In one CNN article from the spring about why gun laws don't get passed, the word "Republican" was never even mentioned.

By downplaying that fanatic obstruction, the press continues to give Republicans a pass. That’s why the strategy has worked so well for them since at least the Obama years — block everything in sight and then watch the press blame the Democratic president for Congressional “dysfunction.”

Again, we saw it with guns. When the Obama administration made a major push to pass a background check bill after 20 first graders were massacred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in late 2012, the GOP refused to pass the bill that garnered 90 percent public support. Incredibly, the pundit class then blamed Obama: If only he had acted sooner, or proposed other legislation, or talked more often to Republicans, or not held so many public events in support of new gun laws.

The GOP’s gun obstruction followed its sequester obstruction, which followed the Hurricane Sandy emergency relief obstruction, which followed consistent obstruction on judicial nominees.

Biden continues to struggle to find the 50th vote needed for the Build Back Better bill. Extremist Republican behavior plays a key role in that, but it gets waved off by the press.