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Manchin to vote against Biden’s IRS pick

By Sarah May on
 March 9, 2023

In the latest example of what has become a relatively common occurrence, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has bucked the wishes of his party to announce that he will not vote in support of Daniel Werfel, President Joe Biden's choice to lead the Internal Revenue Service, as The Hill reports.

The rift between Manchin and the administration on the nomination stems from the senator's disagreement with the manner in which the Inflation Reduction Act is being implemented, taking particular issue with some of the tax credits included in the legislation.

Manchin says no

The senator's opposition to Biden's pick is rooted in his frustration over what he views as erroneous Treasury Department interpretations of provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act related to expanded tax credits for electric vehicles and a series of other green energy priorities, as Politico noted.

In announcing his intentions on Wednesday, Manchin said, “At every turn, this administration has ignored congressional intent when implementing the Inflation Reduction Act,” particularly, as The Hill explained, in regard to delays in issuing guidelines about electric vehicle tax credit eligibility.

“First and foremost, the [Inflation Reduction Act] is an energy security bill with clear and direct guidelines to ensure we are able to onshore our supply and manufacturing chains,” Manchin added, according to the Daily Caller. “But instead of adhering to Congressional intent and prioritizing our nation's energy and national security, the Treasury Department has pandered to automakers and progressive extremist groups and continued to sacrifice the national security of the United States of America.”

Manchin continued, “While Daniel Werfel is supremely qualified to serve as the IRS Commissioner, I have zero faith he will be given the autonomy to perform the job in accordance with the law and for that reason, I cannot support his nomination.”

Confirmation still likely

Werfel's nomination made it through a procedural vote held on Wednesday, but a final vote on his confirmation was not slated to occur until sometime on Thursday.

A total of six Republicans joined in advancing Werfel's nomination past the procedural hurdle, a tally that included Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Chuck Grassley (IA), Thom Tillis (NC), and Todd Young (IN), according to The Hill.

As of Wednesday, it did not appear to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Finance Committee, that any Democrats other than Manchin planned to vote against confirming Werfel.

Though three Democrats — Sens. Dianne Feinstein (CA), John Fetterman (PA), and Tom Carper (DE) — were almost certain to be absent for the final vote due to health issues, Werfel still appeared to be on track for confirmation.

Playing the spoiler

The West Virginia lawmaker's pledge to vote against Werfel comes close on the heels of another of his frequent turns as a foil to the Democrats' plans, with Manchin having declared earlier this week that he would not vote in support of Gigi Sohn, Biden's choice to serve as telecommunications regulator for the Federal Communications Commission, as The Hill further noted.

Manchin took particular issue with what he called Sohn's “years of partisan activism, inflammatory statements online, and partisan alliances with far-left groups” and also emphasized the “unprecedented, bipartisan” nature of the opposition her nomination had generated.

Not long after Manchin's announcement, Sohn withdrew her name from further consideration from the Biden administration role, as the Washington Post reported, citing “unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest.”

As The Hill noted separately, Manchin may not be finished throwing wrenches into Biden's nomination pipeline, as he recently expressed strong reservations about the president's choice to serve as assistant secretary of the Interior for land and minerals management.

Future plans unclear

Given his penchant for upending his party's plans on a fairly regular basis, it is no surprise that Manchin's future political intentions have long been the subject of significant speculation.

Providing further grist for the rumor mill was the senator's Sunday appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, in which he declined to endorse Biden's anticipated re-election campaign and did little to discount the idea that he might choose to seek the Oval Office himself, as the New York Post noted.

“I'm not taking anything off the table. And I'm not putting anything on the table,” Manchin said. “The bottom line is, let's see who's involved...let's wait until we see who all the players are. Let's just wait until it all comes out.”

Though Manchin suggested that he has “plenty of time” to make decisions about his own future, he underscored the key issue areas he feels demand urgent action, saying “We've got runaway debt, we've got inflation that's killing people, we've got unsecured energy, we have a border that's out of control.” Whether or not he ultimately decides that the Senate is the best place from which to fight back against those dilemmas, however, only time will tell.