Journalists break down Manchin’s 'considerable financial interests' in fossil fuels

Journalists break down Manchin’s 'considerable financial interests' in fossil fuels

During the Biden era, centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has been a frequent source of frustration to the progressive wing of his party. The Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate is razor-thin, and the West Virginia senator can easily derail President Joe Biden's Build Back Better proposals if he chooses to vote with Republicans on a bill. Journalist Kate Aronoff examines Manchin's possible motivations in an article published by The New Republic on September 21, noting who some of his biggest donors are.

"Manchinology is back with a vengeance this fall, now that the senator has announced he may not cast a deciding vote in favor of the Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, and instead wishes to delay voting on it until 2022," Aronoff explains. "The spending measure is vital, not least because it could represent America's last best chance to pass something resembling climate policy for at least a decade. So, Manchin's latest hairpin turn attracted attention."

Companies specializing in fossil fuels, according to Aronoff, have been among Manchin's top donors. Aronoff notes that Manchin "made half a million dollars last year off his son's coal company, meaning that coal paid him roughly three times the $174,000 salary he made last year as a public servant." Manchin, she reports, has "received more donations from coal, oil, and gas companies this campaign cycle than every other senator."

"Manchin got $10,000 from ExxonMobil for his 2018 reelection campaign," Aronoff observes. "His top donor so far for the 2022 cycle is Tellurian Inc., a gas company…. As Daniel Boguslaw reported for The Intercept earlier this month, Manchin has earned more than $4.5 million from Enersystems Inc. and Farmington Resources Inc., two coal industry companies he founded in the 1980s…. If, on a given day, you are trying to understand what Joe Manchin's priorities are, it's probably best to look to the priorities of the companies he's gotten money from."

Quite a few articles have posed the question: What makes Manchin tick? Aronoff argues that one can best understand Manchin's motivations by taking a look at who his biggest donors are.

"Despite all the armchair psychology," Aronoff writes, "the best evidence we have suggests that Manchin tends often to act as a vessel for his considerable financial interests in the fossil fuel industry."

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