If you are a newly elected senator filling out the remaining term of one of the most prolific Democratic senators in American history, it’s probably a good idea to make a good impression, especially if you’re up for reelection in two years.
Apparently no one gave that bit of advice to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who will be serving what is left of known KKK member and senator Robert Byrd’s term. In the recent so-called “lame-duck session,” which Manchin was fortunate enough to serve in because he won a special election, Manchin skipped out on two key votes — essentially refusing to represent West Virginia with its second vote in the United States Senate.
The two votes Manchin missed were extremely important. The first, an amnesty-lite plan (that of course includes nothing about securing the border) called the DREAM Act, failed 55-41, not because Republicans filibustered it (as one would assume based on the headlines) but because Democrats failed to get their members to hold the line. Even when some Republican senators voted in favor of the flawed bill, Manchin refused to vote and was nowhere to be found.
The second vote, to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, got the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster (unlike the DREAM Act) and then passed the Senate — no thanks to Joe Manchin, who didn’t vote. Afterwards, his spokesperson declared that Manchin “has been clear on where he stands on the issues.” Many of us disagree. I have no idea where Manchin stands on DADT and neither do others.
So where was Senator Manchin? He was at a Christmas party in Charleston, WV. He came home early, it seems, because he had promised his children a party. That is admirable enough, but, as Politico’s Ben Smith notes, the vote was held at 3:00 pm, and Manchin could have taken a United Airlines flight at 5:40 and been in Charleston before 7:30.
In the end, however, the underlying issue here is not Sen. Manchin’s position on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or the DREAM Act, or whether he had good excuses for missing both votes. What matters is that Manchin did not take the time to vote and represent the people of West Virginia in two crucial votes during the lame-duck session he was lucky enough to serve in. I can guarantee that people on both sides of the DREAM and DADT debates are disappointed. That’s something we can all agree on.
Brandon Kiser is a Kentucky conservative student and political blogger. He is founder, editor, and chief blogger at The Right Sphere, a hub of conservative blog updates and news.