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Everybody Would Like a Word With Joe Manchin

Lobbyists look for ways to win Senate swing vote
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2021 1:10 PM CST

(Newser) – His opposition to President Biden's choice as budget director probably will be the end of her nomination. He may well decide whether a $15-an-hour minimum wage, or a smaller one, becomes law. Everybody in Washington wants Sen. Joe Manchin's vote, but first, every lobbyist would like a moment of his time. That's not easy to get, the Hill reports. "He's a really hard dude to lobby," a Democratic lobbyist said. "There’s just a line from here to Timbuktu of people waiting to have him save their cause or company or issues." Manchin's clout stems from being a swing vote in a Senate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. He's a Democratic senator from a state—West Virginia—that Donald Trump won twice, by about 40 percentage points, per Politico.

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So if Biden loses Manchin on Neera Tanden, he has to pick up a GOP vote for confirmation, per the Washington Post. If Manchin wants the minimum wage to be raised only to $11, his decision imperils Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, per the Hill. On many issues, the question quickly becomes where Manchin stands on them, per Politicio. "He's kind of the Democratic version of John McCain," said Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, adding, "Joe’s a hard guy to figure out how to lead." Lobbying firms are looking to hire someone with an "in," and former staff members have found such jobs. That might not be effective. "I think people trying to lobby Manchin via downtown 'hired guns' are misguided at best and boneheaded at worst," a trade association official said. "The way to 'lobby' Manchin is via your own West Virginia grassroots assets. If you don’t have them, you don't matter to him." (Read more Joe Manchin stories.)

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