Senator Joe Manchin becomes most powerful Senator

Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 5:53 PM EST
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WASHINGTON D.C. (WDTV) - Election season is officially over Wednesday, as both Georgia Senate runoff elections were called in favor of the Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Democrats now control the Senate by the power of Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

But a familiar face could be the true determining factor in what bills make it to the Oval Office for at least the next two years.

Manchin has continually touted his work towards bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. In an interview in December with 5 News, Senator Manchin said he can work with Republicans as easily as he can work with Democrats. But his role as a “conservative Democrat” could mean that party-line legislation could die by his hand.

“I think in some respects, especially in terms of policy development, Joe Manchin is going to be more powerful than Mitch McConnell,” said John Kilwein, associate professor of political science at WVU.

Kilwein says Senator Manchin’s power will likely result in legislation remaining center-right. He dismissed the possibility that progressive policy items like the Green New Deal would survive a vote in the new Senate.

But, the future of policy makers has been completely turned by the results of these Georgia runoff elections.

“The Progressives of the Democratic party are not going to be happy. But the question I would ask them is, ‘are you going to be happier with a moderate-kind-of-right-of-center Senate that is controlled by a Democrat or would you prefer a Senate that is controlled by Mitch McConnell who is not going to allow anything through?’” said Kilwein.

Senator Manchin’s voting record including approval of the nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and withholding funding from sanctuary cities suggest that the Senator is unlikely to vote in favor of large progressive initiatives floated including packing the Supreme Court or Medicare for All.

Senator Manchin will hold office until 2024, meaning he will hold this power until the next election in 2022.

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