The defection of West Virginia’s moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from the ranks of Democrats backing Neera Tanden’s confirmation as OMB director, signals the erosion of Biden’s Senate control.
The next chip off Biden’s Senate bloc came when the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the $15 minimum wage can’t be included in Stimulus Bill if the Dems plan on using reconciliation to pass it by a simple majority. Can they get the votes (a simple majority) to override the parliamentarian? Well, apparently not. Joe Manchin, again, is the problem. He says he won’t support a $15 wage but would back an $11 wage as part of the Stimulus Bill “if Senate rules allow it.” Translation: “no, I won’t vote to overrule the parliamentarian.”
Biden’s Senate losing streak looks to continue. Rachel Levine, Biden’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of Health might also fall apart. A transgender woman, she has come under fire from Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) for her support of gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for minors. Paul aptly compared it to genital mutilation of women. Asked if she backed letting minors decide if they want transgender therapy, even without parental consent, she did nothing to calm the issue when she ducked the question replying that “Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field, with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.” Somehow its hard to see West Virginia voters agreeing with her position.
Biden may also lose his nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general. Murthy served in the post under Obama and Biden wants to bring him back. But, again, Manchin may block the nomination.
Murthy used his stint with Obama to cite gun violence as a public health emergency, a position that cost him the backing of pro-gun Senator Manchin. Will Murthy use his new post to launch an anti-gun crusade on public health grounds? Not if Manchin has his way.
There is no appeasing Manchin, the best approach is to accommodate him. But if Biden moves to the right to do so, he’ll risk losing Georgia’s two new ultra-left Senators: Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Then, like a man sleeping in a bed with a blanket that’s too small to cover him, if he pulls it down his neck gets cold, but the other way his feet freeze. No firm majority in either direction.
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