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Joe Manchin Gave Away All His Power In One Fell Swoop



“Let me make it very clear: If this administration does not honor what it said it would do, and basically continue to liberalize that, where $384 billion is what we’re supposed to invest over 10 years, and they blow that out of the water and it’s, it’s six or seven or eight hundred, I will do everything I can in my power to prevent that from happening. And if they don’t change, then I would vote to repeal my own bill.”

That quote is from West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin during an April 24 appearance on Fox News. It is a quote that should infuriate every West Virginian; indeed, every American.

Let’s make this very clear: Sen. Manchin knew exactly what he was voting to do when he cast the deciding vote on the Orwellian-named Inflation Reduction Act last August. He knew exactly what was in the bill; after all, he had been negotiating every provision in it across the previous 12 months, delaying and blocking and objecting to myriad paragraphs and sentences contained in it.

Nor is it believable that the Senator has somehow been caught by surprise by the aggressive interpretations of various IRA provisions by the EPA and various other Biden administration bureaucracies. After all, Mr. Manchin is no babe in the woods. He’s been in the nation’s capital for 13 years now, having first assumed his senate office following a special election in 2010 to succeed longtime West Virginia Senator Bob Byrd following Byrd’s death. He knows by now how the city works. He certainly must understand that federal bureaucracies invariably interpret vague language in new laws in ways that will expand their purview and raise the cost of the programs governed by the law.

This pretense that he somehow had a “deal” with the White House on how those provisions would be put into action is really just silly. It’s now how any of this works, and he knows it.

The truth about Sen. Manchin is that few political figures in American history have surrendered so much leverage and political power for so little in return than he did when he caved into the demands of Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and cast his vote for the IRA. Before that vote, he was without any question the single most powerful member of not just the Senate, but the entire Congress. But after the vote, his leverage surrendered without anything concrete in return, his power was gone.

This wasn’t the first time the Senator has lashed out at the White House in frustration over its expansive interpretations of the bill. In February, he exploded when EPA announced it would ignore restrictions in the bill designed to require domestic content in new electric vehicles and their batteries in order to qualify for the expanded $7,500 per car federal subsidy. “They almost act like they gotta send $7,500 or a person won’t buy a car. Which is crazy, ludicrous thinking for the federal government,” Manchin told Politico. “I just totally and absolutely am disagreeing with what they’re doing.”

Manchin exploded again a few days later after Biden appeared to put a 10-year limit on the U.S. oil industry’s remaining life span. “This is bullsh*t,” he told Politico. “So they’re gonna basically starve us out of energy that we have a tremendous, abundant supply of because of their aspirational thoughts? I will continue to fight and I’ll do everything I can to make sure the public knows what they’re doing and what it will do to you and your economy and your lifestyle.”

And now, the Senator is angry again, this time over the new auto mileage standards the EPA is seeking to impose, requirements that would essentially make it illegal to manufacture most current gas-powered cars just seven years from now. Manchin’s promise to oppose the administration’s overreach seems impressive, but the catch in his promise is when he qualifies it by saying he will do “everything in my power.”

It’s a qualifier that renders the rest of the promise meaningless because the truth is Sen. Manchin no longer has any power. He gave that all away last August.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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