‘I’m Just Praying To God It’s Not 50-50’: Sen. Manchin Weighs In On Midterms

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin hopes that the upper chamber is not split 50-50 again after the midterms, he said Thursday.

The party’s left-wing has exerted significant pressure on Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Senate’s swing votes during the 117th Congress, to eliminate the filibuster and support election nationalization and social spending packages. The two ultimately supported a $740 billion green energy and healthcare bill, although members like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pushed for more than $3.5 trillion in new spending.

“I’m just praying to God it’s not 50-50 again,” Manchin told NBC News. “I’d like for Democrats to be 51-49. But whatever happens, I hope it’s not a 50-50.”

Manchin has participated in several bipartisan gangs over the last two years, negotiating the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a gun control package, and legislation amending the counting of electoral votes. His refusal to support the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package, however, led to left-wing activists swarming his house boat in the Potomac River.

“It’s been a good two years for the country,” he added of Democrats’ accomplishments. “The president’s done well.” (RELATED: Joe Manchin Refuses To Endorse Biden For President In 2024)

Manchin feuded with the White House in late 2021 and early 2022 over his refusal to support Build Back Better. Press Secretary Jen Psaki accused Manchin of contradicting his promises to Biden after he publicly declared his opposition to the social spending package. The moderate responded that the White House press shop’s comments were “absolutely inexcusable.”

“It is what it is. You’ve got to do your job,” Manchin said of the pressure he’s faced. “But let’s just see what happens. I think — maybe some changes.”

Despite Manchin’s hopes, pollsters believe that the Senate could return 50-50 after the November midterms. FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats a 67% chance to hold the upper chamber, with a 12% chance of another 50-50 split. RealClearPolitics, on the other hand, projects that Republicans will hold a 52-48 edge in 2023. Most forecasters consider control of the upper chamber too close to project.