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Posted at 3:11 PM ET, 12/18/2010

Joe Manchin absent for two major Senate votes

By Felicia Sonmez

When the Senate took two of its most highly anticipated votes of the lame-duck session on Saturday, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was nowhere to be found.

Manchin, who was sworn into office last month after winning a special election for the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), was the only Senate Democrat to miss Saturday's votes on two of his party's signature pieces of legislation, the DREAM Act and the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law banning gay people from serving openly in the military.

Sen. Joe Liberman (I-Conn.), who spearheaded the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal effort, told reporters Saturday afternoon that Manchin told him he'd be out of town for "a family thing."

A Manchin spokesperson told the Charleston Gazette that the senator and his wife had "planned a holiday gathering over a year ago with all their children and grandchildren as they will not all be together on Christmas Day."

"While he regrets missing the votes, it was a family obligation that he just could not break," spokesperson Sara Payne Scarbro said. "However, he has been clear on where he stands on the issues."

Manchin's absence stood in contrast to the presence of another Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who despite a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer, made it in for Saturday's votes. (Wyden is slated to undergo surgery on Monday.)

Since his arrival in the Senate last month, Manchin, who is up for reelection in 2012, has lived up to his campaign promise to "take on Washington and this administration" and work independently of national Democrats.

The Democrat who drew the ire of members of his party for a campaign ad in which he took aim (literally) at cap-and-trade legislation has voted no on a host of Democratic-sponsored bills in recent weeks.

He voted against a proposal that would have extended the Bush-era tax cuts only for the middle class and also voted no last week on a measure that would have repealed "don't ask, don't tell."

Manchin's office on Saturday released statements outlining his opposition to the DREAM Act and to repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

"While sympathetic to those who passionately support it, I cannot support the DREAM Act, as is, at this time," Manchin said. "I strongly believe the DREAM Act should require the completion of a degree. As currently written, the legislation does not."

On "don't ask, don't tell," Manchin said that he'd "spoken with many passionate West Virginians who hold different views on this policy" but reiterated his concerns over the timing of repeal.

"As such, while I believe the DADT policy will be repealed, and probably should be repealed in the near future, I cannot support a repeal of the policy at this time," Manchin said.

By Felicia Sonmez  | December 18, 2010; 3:11 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Next: Dreams deferred, fulfilled as Senate takes up two historic votes

Comments

Today the Republicans killed the "Dream" act. Republicans hate immigrants and Mexicans in particular. To all Hispanics: please remember that the Republicans are your enemy the next time you have the chance to vote. Mark Montgomery NYC, NY boboberg@nyc.rr.com

Posted by: boboberg | December 19, 2010 1:33 AM | Report abuse

The Late WV Senator Robert Byrd age [92] Braved, Harsh,Severe Weather to Place his Votes for Health Care and other Issues..

Joe Manchin runs away from Voting Yes Or No on Major Pieces of Legislation, just a weeks in on the job, as Senator.

His Tough Gun Ads Against Cap & Trade, Though Cap and Trade had been Defeated long Before Joe's Crazed Advertisement, speaks Volumes about this Man, Joe Manchin.


Joe's a Red-Red-Red- West Virginian [Dixie-Crat]

Even Republicans Hate This Man for Shrugging His Responsibilities as U.S. Senator.

NRSC: Gave Joe One He!! of an E-Mail, regarding not doing his sworn duty, which is to place crucial votes, as he was Elected to do.

Joe The Red-Red-Red- West Virginian [Dixie-Crat]

Posted by: omaarsblade | December 19, 2010 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman, who has a long-established practice of reserving Shabbas completely as a day of rest, was prepared to make an exception for two votes that could change the lives for the better of many thousands of people and for our country as a whole. Ron Wyden, who has cancer surgery on Monday at the other end of the country, showed up. Though deathly ill, Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd, whom Manchin "replaced," were prepared to be wheeled in for absolutely critical votes.

But because of a family party, the newly elected, ostensibly Democratic senator from West Virginia couldn't break away for a couple of hours for the first major, televised votes of what, presumably, he hopes will be a lengthy career? His wife and kids and grandkids wouldn't hang around?

Of course, it can be the case that Manchin would have voted twice again, along with most Republicans, against "securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity." In which case, his absence was no absence. But says nothing about his integrity.

It should be worth noting also, by the way, that N.H. Senator Judd Gregg, prime architect of the Catfood Commission to Pull the Plug on Grandma and about to leave the Senate presumably to become a lobbyist, also didn't bother showing up. But given his stalwart belief that everyone else in America should sacrifice our standard of living so that millionaires and billionaires can get tax breaks even more substantial than the ones they're already going to get, he too will not be missed -- except by teary-eyed Mitch McConnell.

Posted by: edallan | December 18, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

It too bad that the Democratic party is not big enough to support differences in opinion. Manchin voiced his opinion on both votes. At least he has considered the views of the West Virginia residences unlike the senate majority leader and others. Those of you who are unhappy about choices should get a life.

Posted by: harveywallbanger1 | December 18, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I think Manchin was ducking the votes to avoid angering the Democratic leadership while pandering to what he perceives his constituents want. I'm ashamed to admit that he's one of my Senators, though I agree with another poster that Raese would have proven to be a much worse choice. Seems as though I've been voting for the proverbial "lesser of two evils" for the last 30+ years. At least the Senate as a whole did the right thing in voting to repeal DADT.

Posted by: JDWV | December 18, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

"Heart of the Lion", that Sen. Manchin. NOT

Posted by: BBear1 | December 18, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

A good guess is he is back in West Virginia getting final instructions along with a generous campaign bribe...er contribution from his bosses at "clean coal".

Posted by: slim21 | December 18, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

g0tcha, asav78 - Four hours from DC to Farmington (his home town), five hours to Beckley (his wife's hometown and where he went to college), six hours to Charleston (where he's lived most his life). An easy half-day's drive.

Posted by: FrankIBC | December 18, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Who cares? He would have voted against them; he wasn't a tie-breaker by any means; he's barely a dem.

W h o c a r e s ? ? ?

Posted by: mikecapitolhill | December 18, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

He'll have run for re-election?! This ain't brain surgery, people...

-------------------

That was a rhetorical question fool.

Posted by: davidwg46 | December 18, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

What a coward . . . .

Posted by: reporter1 | December 18, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

What will be different in the near future than right now?
_____________

He'll have run for re-election?! This ain't brain surgery, people...

Posted by: veritasinmedium | December 18, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Manchin is a disgrace. I moved out of WV in 2007, and not a minute too soon.

He thinks DADT should be repealed but would have voted against it? What will be different in the near future than right now?

Posted by: davidwg46 | December 18, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Manchin will probably switch to the GOP. WV has been voting for the GOP candidate during presidential elections for a long time. Obama's energy policies are anethma to West Virginians. He refers to them as bitter clingers and they think he is an effete Kenyan, Chicagoan, chardonnay sipping, aragula eating limosene liberal.

Posted by: jkk1943 | December 18, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm from WV. While I'm disappointed in these Manchin "non-votes," I'm still not disappointed Joe defeated that loathsome slug John Raese. Given THAT kind of choice, I'll vote for Joe again.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | December 18, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

@gotcha...Are you kidding me about West Virginia being a long way from DC? I'm in Arlington and I'm driving out to a Christmas party in Morgantown, WV around noon tomorrow and will be back for dinner.

Either you don't know your geography or you're making excuses. A Senator from OREGON with a prostate cancer surgery on Monday was there for the vote.

Joe Manchin ducked the vote and he should be shamed for it. Be a man, either you support something or you don't. Imagine if all 100 senators decided to stay home and make excuses for not showing up for our country's most critical votes. It's their job. It's what they were elected to do. Get it?

Posted by: asav78 | December 18, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

@gotcha...Are you kidding me about West Virginia being a long way from DC? I'm in Arlington and I'm driving out to a Christmas party in Morgantown, WV around noon tomorrow and will be back for dinner.

Either you don't know your geography or you're making excuses. A Senator from OREGON with a prostate cancer surgery on Monday was there for the vote.

Joe Manchin ducked the vote and he should be shamed for it. Be a man, either you support something or you don't. Imagine if all 100 senators decided to stay home and make excuses for not showing up for our country's most critical votes. It's their job. It's what they were elected to do. Get it?

Posted by: asav78 | December 18, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"Where he stands on things..."

Just as campaigning is different from governing, Sen. Manchin is going to have to come to grips with the harsh reality: where is stands is not important. It's is how he VOTES.

Manchin decided to run for the Senate and won. Now is job is different from being governor of West Virginia, where the legislature adjourned early, where the work came to him. As Senator his job is now in Washington, DC. As Senator he will have to make sacrifices -- just as his constituents serving in the military do -- and do his duty. Imagine if WV National Guard or reservists decided "a family thing" was more important than showing up for deployment.

Manchin gets today's "Do Be a Doer, Not a Shirker" reminder.

Posted by: jade_7243 | December 18, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Not as tough as he pretended in the commercials. Well, he's still better than a Republican.

Posted by: Hopeful9 | December 18, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

DC is a long way from WVA. Give the man a break.

Posted by: g0tcha
----

I see what you did there. And it was funny.

Posted by: Potomac50 | December 18, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see a DINO in the Senate

Posted by: JCM-51 | December 18, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I would not want to be a democrat anytime soon, either. THEY LOST!!!

Posted by: annnort | December 18, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

God, I miss Bob Byrd. Can anyone imagine him missing important votes like those the Senate took up today??

Posted by: bird-1 | December 18, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

God, I miss Bobby Byrd.

Posted by: bird-1 | December 18, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Manchin represents WVa and his voters would not have been happy if he had voted with his fellow Democrats today. This was his way of stepping away from the mess. He didn't vote No and anger his party but he didn't vote yes and upset his voters back home. A true politician trying to avoid offending anyone.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | December 18, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Democrats aren't like Republicans who can be herded to vote in goose-stepping lockstep with Boehner and McConnell.

Yet another reason I vote Democratic.

Posted by: angie12106 | December 18, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse


DC is a long way from WVA. Give the man a break.

Posted by: g0tcha | December 18, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Manchin was on record as opposing both open gays in the military and Amnesty.
So the reason he didn't vote appears to be gay and illegal-friendly Democrat leadership and rank and file asking him to not "embarass" them with contrarian voting.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | December 18, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the good Senator Manchin may be visiting Mitch McConnell in not the two distant future in hopes of being recruited to run on the GOP ticket in 2012.

Posted by: wheeljc | December 18, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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