A Politico story today highlights Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in talking about how the Democratic leadership is letting the rank-and-file stray from the party line (Manchin) or giving them more visibility on certain issues (Casey) to help them weather difficult re-election fights next year. Manu Raju leads with Manchin:
Over the past couple of weeks, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has railed against an increase in the debt limit, slammed his party on the budget and blasted President Barack Obama in a floor speech.
It’s all music to the ears of Democratic leaders.
“I don’t see that as an attack on the president; I think that’s just Joe Manchin,” said Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who as chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is trying to get Manchin reelected.
Manchin’s freelancing is part of what’s driving the Senate these days. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has given politically vulnerable Democrats license to do almost anything they need to survive a grim political environment, even if that means ripping the president, voting against Democratic bills and teaming up with Republicans to appear bipartisan.
Still, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey said Democratic leaders are “absolutely” working behind the scenes to help incumbent Democratic senators find ways to stand out and highlight their agendas.
“Obviously, when you have an issue that you’ve been working on and you’ve got an established record on, they try to provide opportunities to highlight that,” Casey, himself up for reelection next year, told POLITICO. “But there are a myriad of ways — not just on a bill but also on timing. I think it might lead to some votes here and there that might be prioritized because we’re highlighting the record of certain people. And I think that’s what it should be.”
Casey knows firsthand. He co-sponsored California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s long-standing bill to make sure lawmakers won’t receive paychecks if the government shuts down — a timely hot-button issue as the House and Senate remain at loggerheads over budget negotiations. He has appeared with the leadership at a news conference warning of the dangers of a shutdown. On the floor last week, he won adoption of an amendment — on a 99-0 vote — to help small businesses avoid problems with contractors.