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Who Has Joe Manchin’s Ear?

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Our personal lord and savior has been as disappointing as expected. He definitely doesn’t listen to Joe Biden. Or Chuck Schumer. Or any of his other colleagues. So who does Manchin listen to? The Koch network.

The political advocacy group backed by billionaire Charles Koch has been pressuring Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to oppose key parts of the Democratic agenda, including filibuster reform and voting rights legislation.

That lobbying effort appears to be paying off. Manchin, in a recent op-ed, wrote that he opposed eliminating the filibuster and that he would not vote for the For the People Act, which, advocates say, would limit the influence of big donors on elections.

President Joe Biden has called some of the voting restrictions proposed by Republican leaders in several states “sick” and “un-American.” The president has praised the For the People Act and has said the filibuster must be changed.

Sixty votes are needed to break the filibuster in the Senate in order to allow legislation to get a final vote. Democrats, who have 50 seats, have narrow control of the chamber because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

CNBC reviewed an episode of a Koch policy group Americans for Prosperity’s video series, along with ads crafted by the organization. The network specifically calls on its grassroots supporters to push Manchin, a conservative Democrat, to be against some of his party’s legislative priorities.

Americans for Prosperity launched a website titled West Virginia Values, which calls on people to email Manchin “to be The Voice West Virginia Needs In D.C. — Reject Washington’s Partisan Agenda.”

It then lists all of the items Manchin has promised to oppose, including the idea of eliminating the filibuster, the For the People Act and packing the Supreme Court. It then shows everything the group believes Manchin should oppose, including Biden’s infrastructure plan and the union-friendly PRO Act.

Americans for Prosperity leaders took part in one of their video series with their West Virginia state director in May where they praised Manchin for voicing his opposition to abolishing the filibuster. The video was reviewed by CNBC after it was posted to the group’s Facebook page.

“A wise man once said that it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your enemies but that it takes even more courage up to stand up to your friends,” Ted Ellis, director of coalitions for Americans for Prosperity’s government affairs team, told the audience. “And that’s what Joe Manchin is doing right now. He’s displaying, I think, a lot of courage and we should applaud that.”

Manchin is also having the time of his life. He’s the most powerful politician in America. This means far more to him than any ideology. It also means far more to him than the future of democracy.

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