Republicans are in charge in congress, and now some are seeking Democrats who they can get to help them advance their agenda. New Senate leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly identifying Democrats he believes will break ranks with their party and support at least some Republican legislation.
The Hill reports that Republicans have identified a number of centrist Senate Democrats who they think might help them advance certain legislation, including changes to Obamacare. McConnell and Republicans hold 54 seats in the new Senate, which puts them six votes shy of the “super majority” needed to overcome filibusters and bring legislation to a vote.
The Hill says that Republicans consider the following five Democrats and one independent to be their “go to” centrists:
- Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Mark Warner (D-VA)
- Tim Kaine (D-VA)
- Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
- Angus King (Ind-ME)
Also seen as possible aisle crossers are Delaware’s two Democratic senators, Chris Coons and Tom Carper, as well as Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). However, the members of that group are considered to be less likely to go along with Republicans than the others.
Manchin is looking to lead the turncoats.
West Virginia’s Joe Manchin is practically a Republican already. The senator wasted no time in joining Republicans, along with Democrats Donnelly, Warner, Heitkamp, McCaskill, and Montana’s Jon Tester in introducing legislation to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Manchin told Politico in November that he would not go along with Democrats who might attempt to block the Republican legislative agenda. Despite watching the Republicans do exactly that to Democrats over the past six years, Manchin does not think that turnabout is fair play. When asked about the possibility of Democrats giving Republicans a taste of their own medicine, Manchin said, “That’s bullsh**. . . . I’m not going to put up with that.”
Manchin, along with Indiana’s Donnelly, will join Republicans again in what is certain to be the first of many shots at the Affordable Care Act. The two are backing a proposal, along with Republicans Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Ark.), to change Obamacare’s definition of “full-time” employment from 30 hours per week to 40. This will reduce the number of employees whose employers must offer them health insurance coverage.
Some Democrats have lost track of where the center is.
Some Democrats seem to be attempting to show themselves as more magnanimous and cooperative than Republicans by signaling a willingness to work across the aisle. But some of their attitudes seem to be coming from a flawed interpretation of where Americans stand on important issues.
It is understandable that Democrats like McCaskill, and Donnelly, who represent what are basically “red” states, might want to protect their jobs by going along with the GOP. But job security is not a reason that Carper and Coons, from solidly blue Delaware, or Kaine and Warner, from trending blue Virginia, should want to do so.
In terms of the policies that the two major parties stand for, polls have shown, and continue to show, that most Americans are solidly in the Democratic camp on many major issues, but that fact didn’t stop Joe Manchin from saying this:
Our party has to come back to where the middle is, where the people want us to be.
Manchin seems to have missed the fact that, as the Republican Party has moved ever farther to the right, Democrats have also rushed rightward to fill the gap. Many observers note that, thanks to the shift, the “center” of American politics is far to the right of where it was 50 years ago.
It’s no secret that Republicans consider it to be “bipartisanship” when a few Democrats accept Republican ideas without question. Will these Democrats hold out to try and improve on Republican legislation, or will they accept what is presented to them and adopt a “go along to get along” attitude that was never shown to them by Republicans? It’s going to be an interesting two years.
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