Felicia Persaud (26512)
Felicia Persaud

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) makes $174,000 a year and has a net worth of over 5 million. That means he is making over $90 per hour. But he was adamant that wages for poor and low-income immigrant and other workers should not increase to a mere $15 per hour. He was even willing to hold out and not support the US1.9 trillion-dollar stimulus bill that so many are desperately counting on.

Why? Only God knows. After all, an estimated 278,734 West Virginians live in poverty and some 250,600 people are struggling with hunger—of them, 73,770 children according to Feed America.

But in demonstrating the lengths he was willing to go to get his way, Sen. Manchin has shown that he could clearly be the cog in the wheel of President Joe Biden’s sweeping immigration reform plan, that so many immigrants are counting on.

The Democratic Party majority in the Senate can change the filibuster rule through the so-called “nuclear option” with a simple majority, but moderate Manchin has repeated unequivocally that he opposes doing away with the filibuster rule.

He recently yelled at reporters that he will “never” agree to scrapping the 60-vote threshold standing in the way of his own party’s agenda.

“Jesus Christ! What don’t you understand about never?” said Manchin (D-W.Va.), an outburst that came as top progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) both stressed the necessity of eliminating the filibuster in the wake of the Senate parliamentarian’s advisory ruling against the inclusion of a minimum wage increase in the emerging coronavirus relief package.

Ironic, as Manchin’s own effort to pass a bipartisan gun control amendment with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in 2013 received 54 votes but collapsed due to the filibuster.

This means that Democrats in the Senate, will need at least 10 Republicans to pass any major immigration reform bill. Even if the bill passes through the budget “reconciliation” process, Sen. Manchin, may oppose that maneuver, leaving Democrats in another precarious situation as occurred on March 5, 2021.

It is why already, House Democrats are starting to talk about not picking up the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 this month, but instead, according to NBC News, focusing this week on other standalone immigration bills reintroduced last week, that passed in the chamber in 2019.

These include the American Dream and Promise Act that would create a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” and those with temporary protected status or deferred enforced departure, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers and reform the existing H-2A temporary agricultural work visa program.

“The Democratic House will pass these important bills and build on their progress with further action to honor our nation’s immigrant heritage and ensure America’s leadership in the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a recent bland statement.

In it the intent was clear––play politics and walk the tight rope to keep Moderate Manchin happy and in check in the Senate. The reality, however, is that in doing so, Democrats run the risk of infuriating immigrant voters who helped them win all three houses of government.

The Democratic Party has a choice to make––either it panders to Manchin and the “red” moderates within, or it focuses on keeping its base happy. The decision to me is simple if they want to keep power.

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow