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Manchin takes on Biden directly, endangering White House priorities

By Francis Walshe
|
May 15, 2023

As next year's general election looms on the horizon, President Joe Biden is finding himself increasingly at odds with moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (WV).

Manchin has openly derided the Biden administration in recent weeks, saying he would oppose all the president's appointments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as reported by The Hill.

Manchin vs. Biden

Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, made these remarks on Wednesday, May 10.

This comes in the context of new EPA measures to limit carbon pollution which include proposals to cut gas emissions from energy plants that burn coal and natural gas.

According to Politico, experts believe these new rules will bring about the closure of many coal-burning plants more quickly than initially anticipated.

This is particularly relevant in West Virginia, as the state is reliant on these plants for its energy needs.

In a statement quoted by Politico, Manchin accused the Biden administration of being "determined to advance its radical climate agenda."

He added that "this Administration’s commitment to their extreme ideology overshadows their responsibility to ensure long-lasting energy and economic security and I will oppose all EPA nominees until they halt their government overreach.”

The West Virginia senator's position on this issue currently has the potential to affect two EPA nominations.

Manchin has also gone after the Biden administration over the Inflation Reduction Act, despite the fact he contributed to the writing of the bill.

He has even gone so far as to threaten to support Republicans in an effort to repeal the law.

Republican Support for Manchin

While many Democrats are upset with how Joe Manchin is opposing the Biden administration, a number of GOP figures have praised him for it.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) told The Hill that she and Manchin are "like-minded on the clean power plan, so I think he can’t push it far enough."

Also, analysts have noted that Manchin's militant politics may actually play in the Democratic Party's favor, as they may be necessary to get him re-elected in right-leaning West Virginia.

Ivan Zapien, a former official with the Democratic National Committee, told The Hill that "both [Biden and Manchin] are extraordinary politicians, and even though they may clash often, they know it’s not personal and the goal is to win reelection, not to look organized and in harmony."

Others have highlighted the timing of Manchin's opposition to Biden's EPA nominations as being strategic. He aired his grievances with them the same day Sen. Dianna Feinstein (D-CA) returned to Washington, D.C., meaning he could vote against them without derailing their nominations.

It's not yet clear whether Manchin will run for re-election in 2024. According to The Hill, recent polling has shown him having the lowest approval rating out of all Senate Democrats.