Manchin says ‘respect’ needed in Congress

WHEELING — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said he faces a “hostile work environment” in Washington, D.C.

One week after the West Virginia Democrat stood in applause for many of the points raised by President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address, Manchin on Tuesday called for Senate colleagues to join him in signing a pledge not to campaign against sitting colleagues. This would include directly raising funds against them, or endorse any advertisements or social media campaigns attacking them.

Manchin believes working politically against colleagues has led to partisanship in today’s Congress.

During a recent visit to Wheeling, Manchin told a crowd that Washington politicians are forced by their party to raise money for their party’s candidates. They are also encouraged to campaign against their colleagues from the other party.

Manchin said he has told Democrat leaders he is not going to do that.

“If you go to work every day in West Virginia — and you’re trying to get your co-worker fired and trying to set them up — sooner or later they’re going to meet you in the parking lot,” he said.

Many people were heard telling Manchin they were proud of him for standing during parts of Trump’s speech when most other Democrats sat motionless. He thanked them, acknowledging his actions were not well-received by Washington, D.C. Democrats.

When contacted, spokesmen in Manchin’s office said he stood when the president raised points he agreed with pertaining to the fight against opioid addiction, ending the perceived war against clean coal, improving the nation’s infrastructure, and encouraging bipartisanship in Congress.

Manchin said he sees himself as the most “centrist” member of the Senate, and that all members can view him “as a friend.”

“I have never one time looked at a person in a political setting — and seen I have a ‘D’ by my name and you have an ‘R’ by your name, and you’re not supposed to be my friend,” Manchin said. “You never heard me talking ill about anyone else because I always have had to work with them.

“Today, it’s almost expected that you team up (by political party.) That’s not the way the country works — it’s not the way it’s supposed to work.”

One youth said he “identified as a Republican,” but he praised Manchin for standing for “logic, not party.”

Manchin said he stood for “respect” of the political process, and the youth asked him if it made it harder for him in Washington choosing to respect the process over the voice of his own party.

“Sometimes the party you belong to isn’t happy with you,” Manchin responded.

Manchin recounted an early encounter with former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.),in which they were discussing a bill and Reid told him “this is a party-line vote.”

Manchin asked him what that meant, and Reid informed all Democrats would be voting the same on the measure.

“I read the bill, and I said, ‘Harry, on my best day, I couldn’t sell this crap back in West Virginia,'” Manchin said. “He looked and me, and I said, ‘Harry, I don’t work for you. You don’t know me. You’re not my boss. I work for West Virginia. If I can’t make sense of something, I’m not going to vote for it.”

Likewise, Manchin said he was chastised by many in West Virginia recently for not voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“I know we can repair it — it needs repaired,” Manchin said. “The market is messed up royally, but they’ve know that since they passed it. Nobody wants to fix it, and it has become a political football.”

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