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In Washington, Policy Revolves Around Joe Manchin. He Likes It That Way.

“Joe’s focus, I believe, is bipartisanship, and I agree with the starting point,” stated Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, earlier than decreasing the growth: “They weren’t going to give us a single vote,” he stated in regards to the stimulus invoice.

A former highschool quarterback who associates say nonetheless relishes being on the heart of the motion, Mr. Manchin is one thing of a unicorn in immediately’s Congress. As a pro-coal and anti-abortion Democrat, he displays a less-homogenized period when regionalism was as vital as partisanship and senators had been extra particular person actors than predictable votes for his or her caucus.

Twice elected governor earlier than claiming Mr. Byrd’s seat, he’s the one lawmaker standing in the way in which of an all-Republican congressional delegation in West Virginia, a state that former President Donald J. Trump carried by almost 40 factors final year. And he’s an unlikely majority-maker of the Democratic Senate.

“We really are the big tent,” stated Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, earlier than knowingly including: “Now it’s a lot of work when you have a big tent, right? But that’s the way we have a majority.”

While out of step together with his nationwide occasion on some points, and written off by elements of the left as little higher than a Republican, his politics are extra complicated, even confounding, than they seem at first look.

He offered the deciding vote on two of the largest liberal priorities of this period — blocking repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and on passage of the almost $2 trillion stimulus invoice this month — whereas additionally twice voting to convict an impeached president wildly standard in his dwelling state.

And whereas he could admire Mr. Byrd’s dedication to Senate custom, Mr. Manchin has not emulated his predecessor by leveraging his energy to focus relentlessly on steering spending tasks again to West Virginia.