The Democratic-led Senate is heading toward showdowns on two critical pieces of legislation: President Joe Biden’s ambitious infrastructure plan and a bill to stop state legislatures from making it harder to vote.
But there’s a roadblock in the Democrats’ way, and it’s not Republican leader Mitch McConnell. It’s Joe Manchin III, the maverick Democrat from West Virginia, who insists that laws must be the product of bipartisan compromise, even when bipartisanship is in painfully short supply.
It’s an understandable stance for a politician whose positions are often midway between the two parties and whose state has turned thoroughly Republican.
But in a polarized 50-50 Senate, where almost every issue has become a zero-sum battle, his old-fashioned appeals to comity sound increasingly anachronistic — and they’re driving other Democrats to distraction.
Even Biden, who once believed bipartisanship would blossom as soon as Donald Trump left town, flashed a little frustration last week.