This is known as “paying a fiddler”.
In life, there are many ledgers. Balance sheets. Rewards reaped Penalties are assessed. Penalties and fines are imposed. Prices paid.
We all receive our various dues.
These accounting logs are kept in politics. Voters keep track. Journalists record such things. Politicians also document the political capital of their coworkers.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) found himself in a fiddler’s shoes this week.
The Senate Republicans took out a political lien against Manchin in the last few days. Manchin may not know it but liberal Democrats took out a political mortgage on West Virginia Democrats in 2021.
In late July, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Majority Leader Manchin shocked the political world. They announced an agreement on an elusive plan for social spending.
Manchin effectively thwarted President Biden’s huge “Build Back Better” measure from December last year. Manchin was criticized by progressives, but he received praise from Republicans. Manchin claimed that the bill was too expensive, especially considering skyrocketing inflation. Manchin demanded lower prescription drug prices and a reduction in the deficit.
Many believed that the Democrats’ social agenda was almost gone. This is why the Schumer/Manchin alert of July rocked everyone.
In just weeks, the Senate Democrats and House Democrats came together to create a much smaller package than Build Back Better. The plan addressed health care and the climate, as well as deficit reduction. The bill was christened by Democrats the “Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), even though many were skeptical that it would address inflation.
Manchin was brought on board to deal with inflation. In a 50-50 Senate Democrats wouldn’t have approved IRA without Manchin voting.
For now, Democrats embrace Manchin publicly. Many progressives resent Manchin privately. They feel Manchin used them, and his dithering almost stifled Mr. Biden’s agenda.
Bad memories of Manchin from the Democratic Party didn’t disappear immediately.
What few people knew was that Schumer and Manchin had negotiated a separate agreement when they reached an agreement. Manchin knew this would be the next major fight on Capitol Hill. Manchin got a promise from Schumer. Schumer offered to vote for the IRA in exchange for Manchin’s support. He would include in this fall’s spending bill a plan to speed up energy permitting and to approve a pipeline that Manchin considers important.
Republicans were furious that Manchin changed his stance to support the IRA.
In August, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), warned Manchin that “you are going to be held responsible by your voters on this matter.” “You are supposed to get some special deals for some pipelines in West Virginia under the Continuing Resolution to finance the government. I won’t vote for a Continuing Resolution that is part of a political payback scheme.
A “Continuing Resolution”, or “CR”, is a Band-Aid spending package that prevents a government shutdown.
Congress met a few weeks back with one important “to do” item: Fund the government by September 30, However, most legislators were unaware of the details of the Manchin agreement. Nobody knew what the Manchin-Schummer agreement was. Many Democrats were skeptical that Manchin’s plan would be retained in the bill, according to reports.
Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman, said, “All to be considered,” when she was asked about the Manchin/Schumer arrangement. Let’s see what happens. We will keep the government open. We will watch and see what happens.”
Schumer kept the details of Manchin’s provision under wraps. The New York Democrat, however, insisted that the Manchin provision be included in the spending bill.
Schumer stated, “Our intention to add it to CR,” when Schumer was asked on September 7 by reporters about the Manchin language status. “Absolutely.”
As the month progressed, progressive Democrats and environmental activists became more vocal about Manchin’s permit plan. On September 13, Yours Truly asked Schumer if he was shocked by the outrage among the left over his deal with Manchin.
Schumer stated that the permitting agreement is part and parcel of the IRA agreement. “I will add it to the CR, and it will pass.”
Schumer was available to answer my questions on September 20th. I inquired if Schumer would remove the Manchin language from CR under “any circumstances whatsoever”. I noticed that Schumer had promised for two weeks to keep the provision in his spending package.
Schumer replied, “I’ll repeat it for two weeks and one”
However, it was not certain that Manchin received the votes.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. officially reaffirmed his opposition to this plan.
Manchin stated, “I never thought Bernie Sanders in the extreme left would ever be for any permits.” “What we are dealing with, and a toxic political climate.”
Other Democrats had their reservations, however. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) had concerns about how the bill would allow Manchin to build his pet pipeline without proper environmental review.
Kaine stated, “I’m not against the Mountain Valley Pipeline.” “I don’t believe Congress should be in the the the business of approving or rejecting pipelines.”
However, Manchin relied on the support of Republicans. Democrats claimed that Republicans refused to help Manchin after he agreed to support his spending plan.
Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Majority Whip, stated that “they don’t want any reward for Joe Manchin.”
Republicans seemed to enjoy watching Manchin squirm.
Senator John Kennedy, R.La. said that “I don’t know if Joe’s going be able to pass the thing or not.” He’s my friend, and he’s an intelligent politician. He made a deal, but he didn’t have all the ducks in one row. They don’t even know where the ducks live right now, I think.
Tuesday’s speech was given by Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who is also moderate.
Sinema voted in August for the IRA. McConnell praised Sinema for her support of the IRA and said that she was happy to not overturn the filibuster.
McConnell stated that Kyrsten Sinema had to show courage and stand up to say, “I’m not going break the institution to reach short-term goals.”
The Kentucky Republican lavishly praised Sinema
McConnell declared, “She is, to my view…the most effective first-term senator I’ve ever seen in my time as a senator.” McConnell described her as “a genuine moderate and dealmaker.”
Manchin worked on his plan back in Washington. Manchin could not agree to a deal that would make his deal work.
McConnell rallied GOP members against Manchin’s provision and called it a “phony leaf”. Bipartisan senators indicated that they would support the CR to avert a shutdown of the government this week – provided leaders remove Manchin’s plan. Manchin needed 60 votes to defeat a filibuster. Manchin finally relented on Tuesday afternoon.
A few hours later, the Senate passed a filibuster hurdle with more than 70 years.
“I think that there wasn’t a plan or any real understanding when the deal was made, around two months ago,” stated John Thune (R-S.D.). “And Joe discovered that today,” I believe.
Republicans got what they wanted for more than a year and a half: Manchin’s opposition to Build Back Better. During that time, Manchin was a disappointment to his Democratic counterparts. In late July, Manchin finally got what he wanted: a slimmer version of the Democrats’ Social Spending Package. The Democrats also got some of the things they wanted.
Manchin also wanted two different things: simplified permitting and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Liberal Democrats did not want this. After they approved the IRA, they didn’t require Manchin.
This is called paying the fiddler.
Balance sheets are available. Bills come due. Prices paid.
It’s a simple equation on Capitol Hill.