Democratic and centrist Senator Joe Manchin pleaded with Senate Republicans to pass a bipartisan compromise on voting rights that even included voter ID, but the GOP successfully filibustered and blocked a voting rights bill in the Senate yesterday evening and they're also unwilling to support Manchin's alternative.
Now, considering that was just 24 hours ago, I think we can infer that the timing of Manchin's latest comments is not a coincidence.
Manchin has publicly said that we should compromise to pass an infrastructure spending bill, but Manchin is now explicitly using the R-word: reconciliation.
"I've come to the knowledge, basically, that budget reconciliation is for reconciling budgets. So it's money matters," Manchin told NBC News, calling for bolstering "human infrastructure" — Biden's term for investments in child care, community college and paid leave — and raising tax revenues to fund them.
"Republicans have drawn a line in the sand on not changing anything, and I thought the 2017 tax bill was a very unfair bill, and weighted to a side that basically did not benefit the average American. So I voted against it," Manchin said. "I think there are some adjustments that need to be made."
The truth may be a little more complicated, but from the outside it looks like Manchin burned some of his political capital with Democrats so he can turn around and burn some with Republicans by endorsing budget reconciliation. It looks like a trade-off.
If Republican opposition to Manchin's alternative voting rights bill effectively gave him a green light to pass a large spending bill, then I suppose that effort was not entirely fruitless.
I don't know if these political calculations are absolutely necessary to keep Manchin in office in the deep-red state of West Virginia, but I can say that keeping him there is better than another Republican who would shift control of the Senate back to the GOP. Republican control of Congress means no progress can be made on anything, not just one or two things.