Manchin and Sinema Made Promises to Their Voters That They Refuse to Keep

After yesterday's 50-50 vote killing the For the People Act because a Republican filibuster prevented it from even being debated, let alone voted on, I was ready to write another piece raging about feckless Democrats and their inability to get things done, even when they have both houses of Congress and the presidency. But every time I thought it through, I came up against one pretty solid wall built by Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and their declarations that they will not vote to do away with the filibuster, which will affect every bill from now until Republicans take back over the Senate and almost definitely ditch the filibuster when a Republican is president. Sure, sure, we can say that President Joe Biden could try some kind of LBJ-like threats and/or cajoling to get them to change. But that's not going to happen. Screaming against that wall is kind of useless. So lemme zag instead of zigging:

Sinema and Manchin have taken an untenable position on the filibuster because it puts them in the position of lying to their constituents about a whole lot of the promises they made when they last ran for office in 2018. 

For instance, Manchin's campaign website explicitly says, "America’s infrastructure is deteriorating, and too many roads and bridges in West Virginia are falling apart. Joe wants to put West Virginians to work updating and modernizing infrastructure." And in the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, which is set to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives, West Virginia gets earmarks worth in the neighborhood of $35 million in specifically budgeted infrastructure projects, all requested by Republican members of Congress from the state, Carol Miller and David McKinley. That seems pretty damn bipartisan.

When it comes to broadband, Manchin was even more enthusiastic for helping a state that has the third-worst access in the country. His website says, "He’s fighting to expand high-speed broadband access in the Mountain State because it’s essential that businesses, entrepreneurs, and students are connected to the world and have the tools they need to compete in the global economy. Currently, 500,000 West Virginians do not have access to broadband internet. Joe believes that West Virginia requires expanded internet access in order to create new jobs, better train our workforce, and build a brighter future for West Virginians. Senator Manchin refuses to allow rural communities to be left behind due to lack of broadband access." 35 of WV's 52 counties don't have broadband internet. So, yeah, you'd think the state's senators would want to do something about that.

The infrastructure bill that Biden proposed, which has been the subject of negotiations cutting it deeper and deeper, has $100 billion to expand broadband access across the country. West Virginia's Republican Governor Jim Justice has said he welcomes the spending in his state. As he said about the bill, "I have more wishes and hopes than I have concerns." Other Republicans in West Virginia support the bill, too. Once again, the desire to improve the lives of West Virginians is bipartisan. 

This could go on. Manchin made promises about education. The Biden's proposal, the American Jobs Plan, has $100 billion for construction and upgrades to public schools. Manchin made promises about better health care and better care for veterans, also specifically in there. And considering the water issues in his state, you'd think Manchin might welcome the spending on clean drinking water. 

None of these are controversial. All of them have bipartisan support beyond the Senate. 

And we could do the same thing for Kyrsten Sinema. She's taken down most of her campaign website, but Archive.org is forever. Although, it's perhaps poignantly symbolic that the "Priorities" page now says "Not Found." But, her website once said, "She’s worked across the aisle to help family farmers, supported expanding rural broadband, and fought to protect community health centers that are so vital to rural Arizona." Sinema's a bit different from Manchin because she emphasized, time and again, that she would "reach across the aisle" to "get things done." 

The question for Sinema is if aisle-reaching is more important than, say, the $92 million in earmarks for Arizona roads and bridges in the INVEST in America Act in the House. Or the billions in other spending for Arizona in the American Jobs Plan. This is spending that would benefit all Arizonans, who, you know, have to vote for Senator in 2024. What's more important to them? That Sinema held the line on the filibuster? Or that they got more jobs, better broadband, and improved health care, among other things?

Even by her own standard that she laid out for voters, Sinema fails. On her website, it said, "We believe that delivering results is more important than scoring political points. That’s why Kyrsten will work with anyone – regardless of party – who’s serious about getting things done for everyday Arizonans." If she believes that the vote-blocking Republicans are "serious about getting things done" at this point, she's either owned by someone or delusional (or, yes, both - you can safely put away the little girl gif). But if Sinema believes "delivering results" really is "more important than scoring political points," then, it seems, the only result she cares about is preserving the filibuster. And that's just about scoring political points because it accomplishes nothing more.

Manchin and Sinema made explicit promises about what they wanted to do while in office. And the only people who are preventing them from fulfilling those promises are Manchin and Sinema. They will need to go home and explain why an anti-majoritarian Senate rule is more important than jobs, safe drinking water, bridges that don't break, and decent health care, especially for seniors and veterans. 

You want them to change their minds? Forget about raging. Go full court press in their home states. Remind voters of what they stand to lose.