It is difficult being a Senate Democrat in a deep-red state. For proof, just look at the record of Sen. Joe Manchin (D- W. Va.) when it comes to border security, an issue which he consistently says he supports in order to appease his constituents, but always with some sort of contingency that prevents him from actually doing anything to improve border security.
“Centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) signed a letter to President Obama Monday calling on him not to allow another Syrian refugee into the country unless federal authorities can guarantee with 100-percent assurance they are not connected to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” according to an article in The Hill from 2015.
In 2015, those words were meaningless – and Manchin knew that. Obama was not going to actually do anything about the refugee crisis, so Manchin’s comments would have no repercussions.
But watch how Manchin’s tune changed in early 2017, shortly after President Donald J. Trump announced “extreme vetting” measures for refugees.
“As a member of the Intelligence and former member of the Armed Services Committees, I know firsthand the threats facing our country, and my top priority is always the safety of my fellow West Virginians,” he said. “This is why I supported extreme vetting in the past for anyone seeking to come to our country. Unfortunately, after taking time to review the new executive order and discuss its impacts, I believe the scope and execution of the President’s action are not a common sense approach. We should focus all of our efforts on identifying potential terrorists, but commonsense would tell you that a 5 year old trying to join their family does not present a threat to our country.”
Trump’s extreme vetting program would include refugees from Syria, which two years prior, Manchin did not want to enter our country at all. Manchin, knowing that Trump would take action on this border security measure, backed off of his demand that America should allow any refugees from Syria – instead saying that we needed to take a “common sense” approach (whatever that means).
This is part of the theatrics of politics. Manchin agrees with Trump on this type of border security. It’s plainly obvious. But he cannot fully support the President for fear of breaking with the Democrats in Congress.
Now we jump to February, when Manchin said he was “disappointed” that a bipartisan bill to end sanctuary cities failed. This bill also would have provided amnesty for DREAMers, illegal aliens brought to America by their illegal alien parents, and funding for a border wall.
“I share the President’s commitment to border security. That’s why I voted for his plan. That’s why I fought to ensure the $25 billion he requested for border security was included in the bipartisan deal. That’s why I opposed the Democratic proposal that did not provide a single penny for border security,” Manchin said.
Manchin was safe in supporting this bill. His Democratic colleagues would have received the amnesty they so desperately need for their voting bloc, and his constituents would have received the wall they they elected Trump to build.
Just last week Manchin had an opportunity to fund that exact same wall. But did he do it? Absolutely not. Again, he claimed that he supported the wall – just not under these circumstances.
“Let me be perfectly clear: I support funding the border wall,” he said. “I have voted for every border wall funding bill that has come before the Senate from $1.6 to $46 billion, and I will continue to support border wall funding,” he said.
But the budget excluded a provision for a deeply indebted federal medical fund for coal miners, which Manchin said he just could not abide.
“However, a bill that funds border security but devastates our brave mining families is a bad bill, and there is no rational reason we can’t have both — border security and keeping our promise to miners. That is what I will continue to fight and vote for,” Manchin continued.
That excuse, of course, is simply a pretext for voting against a wall so as appease his Democratic colleagues. There is no reason the federal government should be paying into a medical care fund for West Virginia miners. The state – if it must – could easily fix that problem. There are many other ways, no doubt, to ensure the health of West Virginia miners without holding up a crucial bill on national border security.
So what is the perfect situation under which Manchin would support border security and building a wall? One that involves absolutely no pushback from his Democrat colleagues. One that will never exist.
Just remember, in the fashion of a true D.C. politician, Manchin absolutely does support a border wall, but his constituents will absolutely not get one. Ever.
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