Growing up, we got a kick out of the cat and mouse cartoon, “Tom and Jerry.” We loved their antics and followed the chase. As adults, we left the childish cartoon behind, but we still have the Chuck and Joe show in Washington D.C.
Of course, we are describing the drama between Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin. The Democratic Party’s signature bill really is focused on the antics of these two Senators.
The Democrats in the Senate know that the bill to come is the last major piece of legislation they will work on before the coming midterm elections in November. For almost a year, there has been an intriguing chase happening between the two men. In recent weeks, they took the show behind closed doors.
Schumer met his conservative colleague Joe Manchin from West Virginia again privately this week. He is no doubt relying on his over 10-year relationship with Manchin to get the race for a solid bill done.
They are focused on a party-line bill that would fight inflation and Manchin is committed to having his fingerprints all over it. When the rhetoric got intense between Sen. Manchin and the White House over his refusal to support Biden’s Build Back Better plan, the Party decided to change its strategy. According to Democratic Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland, they chose to leave the future with Manchin in the hands of Schumer.
Schumer and Manchin have different political philosophies, but they have a cordial relationship. Manchin serves on Schumer’s leadership team and he has supported many of Biden’s nominees on key bills. The West Virginia senator did not support the party-line on changing the filibuster and on abortion rights.
Manchin has made it clear that he is willing to deal, and he has outlined that he supports the following: raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, directing money to energy and climate development, reducing the deficit, and lowering drug prices.
Manchin believes that Schumer understands his position.
“I think he understands it. But you know, Sen. Schumer has a pretty far-left caucus. And with that, there were people in the overwhelming majority who were going a different direction. And he’s the leader of that. I understand he was in a very difficult position … and we have a very good understanding, and I think, a very good relationship,” Manchin said in a recent interview.
But the clock is ticking and the cat and mouse game continues. For some Democrats, Memorial Day is a deadline for deciding on whether or not to stay in the race for a major Democratic bill along party lines.
Schumer had this to say about where things stand, “We’re making progress, got more to do. But we’re making some progress. I’m feeling decent.”
Other Democrats are not so positive. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) gave up months ago. “I put so much time into immigration on reconciliation. It took a year of my legislative life. I have nothing to show for it. I wish Chuck well on reconciliation. I’m going to focus my legislative efforts in the 60-vote world,” Durbin said with a laugh.
Manchin’s bottom line has always been, “I have to answer to the people who I represent, who really hire me to do the job of being the representative. And I would hope that all of my caucus colleagues understand.” He is still looking for the right piece of legislation that will impact inflation and give America energy independence.
Schumer is trying to offer up that piece of cheese to Joe, but most other Democrats are just waiting for the trap to be triggered.