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There's a deal on the table for a Manchin party-switch deal

Senate Minority Leader McConnell is promising Manchin that he would keep his chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Manchin filibuster
Manchin ha sido uno de los mayores opositores de su partido a lo largo del proceso de negociación | EFE / Archivo

December 23, 2021 2:57pm

Updated: December 23, 2021 6:39pm

The possibility of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III switching parties and joining the GOP is beginning to gain more traction, The Hill reported.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell discussed the possibility of allowing Manchin to keep his committee chairmanship in a party-switch deal that would give the GOP majority control of the U.S. Senate. Although Manchin has previously refused to switch parties, his opposition to the Biden administration’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill has prompted Republican leadership to once again court him.

“I think what Manchin is discovering is that there just aren’t any Democrats left in the Senate that are pro-life and terribly concerned about debt and deficit and inflation,” said McConnell. “So he feels like a man alone. If he were to join us, he’d be joining a lot of folks who have similar views on a whole range of issues.”

But McConnell is proactively adding assurances to the potential party-switch deal, promising Manchin that he would keep his chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“He, I’m sure, enjoys being chair of the committee,” said McConnell. “It’s important to West Virginia. And all of those things are things we’ve discussed.”

Manchin, who has led the energy panel since January when Democrats took control of the 50-50 Senate, is particularly interested in keeping his chairmanship given the leading role that coal and natural gas play in his state’s economy.  

“We’d be thrilled to have another coal-state Republican who understands blue-collar concerns in the conference,” said Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican senator from Wyoming.

Although Manchin could make keeping his chairmanship a requirement for his party-switch, such an agreement would be nonbinding. Such deals have been used in recent history, however, and have allowed for mutually beneficial deal making.

In 2001, Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party to caucus with the Democrats as an independent, shifting control of the evenly divided Senate to Democrats. As part of the deal, Jeffords remained as chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education and Labor Committee.

Democrats also allowed him to take the chairmanship of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.