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Defiant Manchin Sits with GOP During SOTU Speech

  It’s not like the Democratic Party has been particularly fond of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who doomed the Build Back Better bill in ...

 It’s not like the Democratic Party has been particularly fond of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who doomed the Build Back Better bill in the Senate and refused to go along with nuking the filibuster on the Democrats’ voter laws overhaul.

At Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Manchin seemed to indicate the feeling was mutual.

Breaking with his party again, Manchin sat on the Republican side in the House chamber during the president’s annual address to the nation, and the message could not have pleased the party’s progressives. 

While Manchin and his spokesman said afterward that it was a gesture of bipartisanship, according to the Washington Examiner, it was another vivid reminder that Manchin is one of the reasons Biden’s first year in office wasn’t nearly as expensive as it could have been.

That’s a good thing, mind you — something both Republicans and Democrats should be rejoicing over, given how larded up Build Back Better was. (Here at The Western Journal, we’ve covered how wasteful it would have been — and we’ll do it again if the administration tries to resurrect it. You can help us bring America the truth by subscribing.)


According to the Examiner’s Emily Brooks, it wasn’t just that Manchin sat on the GOP side for the speech — between Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. Manchin also didn’t clap when Democrats were supposed to, either.

“Manchin did NOT stand/clap during many applause lines that have to do with items in the Build Back Better bill that he opposed, like the Child Tax Credit,” Brooks noted on Twitter.

In addition, he was apparently on his phone when Biden talked about his Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and didn’t stand during the applause line for her.

When Manchin was asked after the speech why he sat with the Republicans, Romney — who was with him — responded, “I asked him to sit with me,” according to the Examiner.

“We’re showing unity, working together,” Manchin added. “Showing the whole world we’re together in standing behind Ukraine.”

Asked about the speech, according to the Examiner, Manchin responded, “It was a good speech, sure.”

Manchin’s communications director, Sam Runyon, also shared the unity line.

“Senator Manchin sat with his colleague Senator Romney to remind the American people and the world that bipartisanship works and is alive and well in the U.S. Senate,” Runyon said in a statement, according to the Examiner.

However, it’s worth noting that Manchin broke with the Democrats again this week over what he called “hypocritical” energy policies by the Biden administration, particularly involving Russia.

“While Americans decry what is happening in Ukraine, the United States continues to allow the import of more than half a million barrels per day of crude oil and other petroleum products from Russia during this time of war,” Manchin said, according to Axios.

The president has pointedly refused to sanction Russia’s energy sector over price and supply fears even after making moves to reduce production of oil and gas at home.

It’s another reason for the White House to be frustrated over the fact Manchin isn’t just going to fall into line, the same as Democrats got frustrated with him over his refusal to sign on to eliminating the filibuster for the Democrats’ “voting rights” bill or to support Build Back Better.

We heard all kinds of kicking and screaming from the left over his refusal to simply vote how they tell him to. All that’s done is made Manchin dig in his heels — and good for him.

The West Virginia senator is certainly no conservative, particularly when it comes to organized labor issues. However, when he finds it easier to sit with the opposing party during the State of the Union than the people he usually votes with, that should send a message about where purity tests have gotten the White House and congressional Democrats.

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