Mitch McConnell was caught completely by surprise by Manchin and Schumer’s deal that was set up in secret basement negotiation.
Quietly, Manchin that very day seemed to be angling for a deal. The senator’s staff in the morning had approached Schumer’s aides, offering a new counterproposal: Democrats could try to pass a bill in August, including money for climate change.
The entreaty set the stage for a hushed meeting between the two lawmakers that afternoon in the labyrinthine basement of the Capitol, in a conference room Schumer did not even realize at first was his. They left with a handshake agreement to at least try again before the August recess. Recalling it later, Manchin told reporters his message to the majority leader was that he hadn’t “walked away,” adding: “This is ridiculous. We can recalibrate, see if something can be done.”
The news came as an even greater surprise to Republicans, who that day were huddling with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to plan how they could further stymie the Democrats’ agenda.
The story of Manchin and Schumer’s deal shows that Democrats can play hardball and win. Democrats are also much better at negotiating in secret than Republicans, and Mitch McConnell is vastly overrated as a master Senate strategist.
Republicans are enraged because they had no clue that the deal was coming. Many Democrats did not know. The media didn’t know. Staffers didn’t know. Even people in the White House didn’t know.
The Schumer/Manchin deal was a throwback to old-school politics as two senators sat down together and worked it out, and Mitch McConnell was powerless to stop senators from negotiating in the way that the American legislative process is supposed to work.
mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association