In a move that helps round up support for his reelection in 2018, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin accepted an appointment to the the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday night.
With 25 Democratic seats (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats) up for grabs, ten of them are in states where Trump won. In two years, Republicans will only need to defend eight states and flip eight Democratic seats to have a filibuster proof majority, a brief period enjoyed by President Obama and congressional Democrats from the beginning of 2009 to the end of 2010.
The West Virginia Democrat was also appointed to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“It is a privilege to be assigned to the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as we enter into a new Congress,” Senator Manchin said in a statement. “The two committees oversee a range of issues that will help the people of West Virginia and our values.”
Sen. Manchin went on to say, “As a member of these new committees, as well as a new member of Senate leadership, I will have a greater influence over where our federal dollars are going, and how our country’s intelligence activities and programs keep us safe.”
Democrats in the upper chamber sought ways to keep around vulnerable members up for reelection. A post on a key committee, like appropriations that drives taxpayer funds to the states, is a helpful boost to a Democratic senator who represents one of the poorest states in the union.
Both party leaders and officials have promised help to the state over the years, with Republicans pledging to grow more jobs and money through coal mining and Democrats pledging more government assistance.
Manchin will join fellow West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, on the committee that was chaired for years under former West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd. Byrd, who passed away in 2010, frequently used his post to guide federal funding to his poverty stricken state, which often ended up producing a plethora of taxpayer financed structuresnamed after him while he was still in office.
The ploy worked to Byrd’s advantage politically during each campaign cycle, as his name, permanently plastered all over the state, reminded his more socially conservative constituents every day who brought home federal funds for them despite his Democratic Party membership. However, opponents of Byrd, like Citizens Against Government Waste, called him the “Emperor Palpatine of Pork” in a 2006 statement.
Since Manchin’s first campaign for the Senate six years ago to fill the seat left vacant by his late predecessor, he sought ways to please West Virginia voters on the right while maintaining his relationship with Democrats in Washington.
More recently, Manchin is the only Democrat in the upper chamber to be a vocal supporter of Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.
“I know Jeff Sessions. Jeff is a friend of mine and I would say I would support Jeff,” Manchin told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity. He added, “The things they’re saying about Jeff — I’ve never seen any trace of that.”