With Democrats holding the slimmest of margins in the Senate, Joe Biden doesn’t need votes from any Republicans to win confirmation of his cabinet nominees, but he DOES need votes from the likes of Joe Manchin, the conservative Democratic Senator from West Virginia and notorious thorn in the side of the party’s progressive wing. And now it appears that Manchin will not vote for Biden’s OMB nominee, Neera Tanden, and he’s also expressed reservations about Interior nominee Deb Haaland.
As Ana and Ryan Grim discuss in this clip, Manchin has received sizable campaign contributions from various sectors of the fossil fuel industry, so his ostensible concerns about Haaland and her “radical” positions opposing the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines may be driven by the need to appease his donors. Ryan points out that Haaland’s ostensibly extreme positions are actually in line with Joe Biden and most Democrats, and she’s always been known in her home state of New Mexico for supporting mainstream Democratic policies, so Manchin is likely just jockeying for position and wants to extract some concession for his home state before he will likely vote yes on her nomination.
As to the Tanden nomination, that one’s a little more complicated. Ryan notes that Tanden was among the left-leaning Democrats who at one point were chastising progressives for not understanding the need to placate the so-called “centrists” in the party like Joe Manchin, and yet now Manchin is refusing to support Tanden’s nomination. The likely reason, Ryan says, is that Manchin is throwing Tanden under the bus as a no-cost means of currying favor with his supporters at home and show he still can be “independent” even though he will likely vote on Biden’s upcoming Covid relief bill. Ana, no fan of Neera Tanden, finds the irony of this turn of events “delicious.”