Joe Manchin

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Joe Manchin
Senator Manchin.jpg
Ranking Member of the
Senate Energy Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byMaria Cantwell
United States Senator
from West Virginia
Assumed office
November 15, 2010
Preceded byCarte Goodwin
Chair of the
National Governors Association
In office
July 11, 2010 – November 15, 2010
Preceded byJim Douglas
Succeeded byChristine Gregoire
34th Governor of West Virginia
In office
January 17, 2005 – November 15, 2010
Preceded byBob Wise
Succeeded byEarl Ray Tomblin
27th Secretary of State of West Virginia
In office
January 15, 2001 – January 17, 2005
GovernorBob Wise
Preceded byKen Hechler
Succeeded byBetty Ireland
Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 13th district
In office
December 1, 1992 – December 1, 1996
Preceded byBill Sharpe
Succeeded byRoman Prezioso
Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 14th district
In office
December 1, 1986 – December 1, 1992
Preceded byAnthony Yanero
Succeeded byCharles Felton
Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates
from the 31st district
In office
December 1, 1982 – December 1, 1984
Preceded byClyde See
Succeeded byDuane Southern
Personal details
Joseph Manchin III

(1947-08-24) August 24, 1947 (age 71)
Farmington, West Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Gayle Connelly (m. 1967)
Children3, including Heather
EducationWest Virginia University (BBA)
WebsiteSenate website

Joseph Manchin III[1] (born August 24, 1947) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from West Virginia, a seat he has held since 2010. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 34th governor of West Virginia from 2005 to 2010 and the 27th secretary of state of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005. He is a potential candidate for governor in 2020.[2]

Manchin is a moderate Democrat, a fact which has allowed him to win elections in West Virginia even as the state shifted from one of the most Democratic in the country to one of the most Republican.[3] He won the 2004 gubernatorial election by a large margin and was re-elected with an even larger margin in 2008; in both years, Republican presidential candidates captured the majority of West Virginia's votes. Manchin won the special election in 2010 to fill the Senate seat vacated by Robert Byrd when he died in office. Manchin was elected to a full term in 2012 with 60 percent of the vote, and was later reelected in 2018 by a much narrower margin. Manchin became the state's senior U.S. Senator when Jay Rockefeller retired in 2015.

As a member of Congress, Manchin is known for his bipartisanship, voting or working with Republicans on issues such as abortion and gun ownership. He opposed the energy policies of President Barack Obama, voted against cloture for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (he did not vote on the bill itself), voted for removing federal funding from Planned Parenthood in 2015, and voted to confirm most of Republican President Donald Trump's cabinet and judicial appointees. However, Manchin has repeatedly voted against attempts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), voted to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood in 2017, and voted against the 2017 Republican tax plan. Manchin has complained about the "toxic" lack of bipartisanship in Congress on almost every issue; "liberal activists argue he is too conservative for the Democratic Party, while Republicans argue he is too liberal for West Virginia."[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Manchin was born in 1947 in Farmington, West Virginia, a small coal mining town, the second of five children of Mary O. (née Gouzd) and John Manchin.[5][6] Manchin was derived from "Mancini". His father was of Italian descent and his maternal grandparents were Czechoslovak immigrants.[5][7]

His father owned a carpet and furniture store, and his grandfather, Joseph Manchin, owned a grocery store.[8] His father and his grandfather both served as Mayor of Farmington, West Virginia. His uncle, A.J. Manchin, was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates and was elected as the state's Secretary of State and Treasurer.[9]

Manchin graduated from Farmington High School in 1965.[10] He entered West Virginia University on a football scholarship in 1965; however, an injury during practice ended his football career. Manchin graduated in 1970 with a degree in business administration[11] and went to work for his family's business, where he ran a carpet store.[5]

Manchin was a childhood friend of Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban and they are still close friends to this day.[12]

Early political career[edit]

Manchin was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1982 at the age of 35 and was elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1986, where he served until 1996. He ran for governor in 1996, finishing second to Charlotte Pritt among a large group of candidates in the Democratic primary election. He later ran and was elected as Secretary of State of West Virginia in 2000.

Governor of West Virginia[edit]

Manchin greeting President George W. Bush in 2006

Manchin announced his intention to challenge incumbent Democratic Governor, Bob Wise, in the 2004 Democratic primary election in May 2003. Wise decided not to seek re-election after a scandal, and Manchin won the Democratic primary and general election by large margins. His election marked the first time that two people of the same political party had followed one another in the West Virginia Governor's office since 1964.

Manchin speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in his capacity as chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

Manchin was a member of the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors' Association, and the Democratic Governors Association. He was also chairman of the Southern States Energy Board, state's chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission and chairman of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission.

In July 2005, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship sued Manchin, alleging that Manchin had violated Blankenship's First Amendment rights by threatening increased government scrutiny of his coal operations in retaliation for Blankenship's political activities.[13] Blankenship had donated substantial funds into campaigns to defeat a proposed pension bond amendment and oppose the re-election of state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw,[14] and he fought against a proposed increase in the severance tax on extraction of mineral resources.[15] Soon after defeat of the pension bond amendment, the state Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) revoked a permit approval for controversial new silos near Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County. While area residents had complained for some time that the coal operation there endangered their children, Blankenship claimed that the DEP acted in response to his opposition to the bond amendment.[16]

During the 2006 Sago Mine disaster in early January 2006 in Upshur County, West Virginia, Manchin appeared to confirm incorrect reports that 12 miners had survived;[citation needed] in actuality only one survived. Manchin later acknowledged that an unintentional miscommunication had occurred with rescue teams in the mine.[citation needed] On February 1, 2006, he ordered a stop to all coal production in West Virginia, pending safety checks, after two more miners were killed in separate accidents.[17] Sixteen West Virginia coal miners died from mining accidents in early 2006. In November 2006, SurveyUSA ranked him as one of the most popular governors in the country with a 74 percent approval rating.[18]

Manchin easily won re-election to a second term as governor in 2008 against Republican Russ Weeks, capturing 69.77% percent of the vote and winning every county.[19]

U.S. Senate[edit]



Memorial service for Robert Byrd at the State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, July 2, 2010
Manchin's 112th Congressional session portrait

Due to the declining health of Senator Robert Byrd, speculation focused on what Manchin's response would be if Byrd died. The governor consistently refused to comment on the subject prior to Byrd's death, except for stating that he would not appoint himself to the position.[20] Byrd died on June 28, 2010,[21] and Manchin appointed Carte Goodwin, his 36-year-old legal adviser, on July 16.[22]

On July 20, 2010, Manchin announced he would seek the Senate seat.[23] In the Democratic primary on August 28, he defeated former Democratic Congressman and former West Virginia Secretary of State Ken Hechler.[24] In the general election, he then defeated Republican John Raese.


Manchin chose to stand for reelection to a full term in 2012. According to the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, early polling found Manchin heavily favored, leading Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito 50–39, 2010 opponent John Raese 60–31, and Congressman David McKinley 57–28.[25] Manchin had not endorsed his party's candidate, President Barack Obama, for the 2012 presidential election, saying that he had "some real differences" with the presumptive nominees of both major parties, finding fault with Obama's economic and energy policies, and questioning Romney's understanding of the "challenges facing ordinary people."[26]

Manchin defeated Republican John Raese and Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber with 60.49% of the total vote and won a full term in the U.S. Senate.[27]


In 2018, Manchin ran for re-election.[28] He was challenged in the Democratic primary by Paula Jean Swearengin. Swearengin is an activist and coal miner's daughter who is supported by former members of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Swearengin criticized Manchin for voting with the Republicans and supporting the policies of Donald Trump.[4][29]

On the Republican side, Manchin was challenged by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. In August 2017, Morrisey publicly asked Manchin to resign from the Senate Democratic leadership team. Manchin responded, "I don't give a shit, you understand?" to a Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter when asked about Morrisey's call. "I just don't give a shit. Don't care if I get elected, don't care if I get defeated, how about that?"[30]

In the November 6, 2018 general election, Manchin was re-elected to a second full term, defeating Morrisey with 49.5% of the total vote.


Manchin was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on November 15, 2010, succeeding interim Senator Carte Goodwin. Manchin named Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis to be his chief of staff. In 2015, Manchin announced that he would seek re-election to the Senate in 2018.[28]

Political positions[edit]

Joe Manchin is often considered to be a moderate[31][32]—or even conservative[31][33]—Democrat. Manchin describes himself as "fiscally responsible and socially compassionate"; CBS News has called him "a rifle-brandishing moderate" who is "about as centrist as a senator can get".[34] In an interview, Manchin described himself as a "moderate conservative Democrat."[35] The American Conservative Union gave him a 25% lifetime conservative rating and Americans for Democratic Action, a progressive PAC, gave him a 35% liberal quotient in 2016.[36] In February 2018, Congressional Quarterly published a study finding that Manchin had voted with President Trump's position 71% of the time.[37] As of June 2019, Five ThirtyEight, which tracks congressional votes, found that Manchin had voted with President Trump's position about 56% of the time.[38] In 2013, the National Journal gave Manchin an overall score of 55% conservative and 46% liberal.[39]


Manchin identifies as "pro-life".[40] He has mixed ratings from both pro-choice and pro-life political action groups. In 2018, Planned Parenthood, which supports legal abortion, gave Manchin a lifetime grade of 57% while National Right to Life (NRLC), which opposes abortion, gave Manchin a 40% score; in 2016, the NRLC scored Manchin at 75% and NARAL Pro-Choice America gave him a 100% in the same year.[41] On August 3, 2015, he broke with Democratic leadership by voting in favor of a Republican-sponsored bill to terminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health services, including abortions, both in the United States and globally.[42] He has the endorsement of Democrats for Life of America, a pro-life Democratic PAC.[43]

On March 30, 2017, however, Manchin expressed support for abortion rights providers by voting against H.J.Res. 43.[44] The bill would have prevented states from withholding money from abortion providers. H.J.Res. 43, which was signed by President Trump, would have nullified that regulation.[45] In April 2017, Manchin endorsed the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.[46][47][48] Also in 2017, Planned Parenthood gave Manchin a rating of 44%.[49] In January 2018, Manchin joined two other Democrats and the majority of Republicans by voting in favor of a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks.[50] In June 2018, following the retirement of Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, Manchin urged Trump not to appoint a judge who would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade and to instead choose a "centrist."[51]

In 2019, Manchin was one of three Democrats, joining all Republicans, who voted in favor of a bill to require that doctors care for infants born alive after a failed abortion.[52]


In his first year in office, Manchin met one-on-one with all of his 99 Senate colleagues in an effort to get to know them better.[53]

On December 13, 2010, Manchin participated in the launch of No Labels, a new, nonpartisan organization that is "committed to bringing all sides together to move the nation forward."[54] Manchin is a co-chair of No Labels.[55]

Manchin was one of only three Democratic senators to dissent from Harry Reid's leadership to vote against the nuclear option which switched the Senate away from operating on a supermajority basis, to requiring only a simple majority for certain decisions, on November 21, 2013.

Manchin worked with Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) to introduce legislation that would require a background check for most gun sales.[56]

Manchin opposed the January 2018 government shutdown.[57] The New York Times suggested that Manchin helped bring an end to the shutdown by threatening not to run for re-election unless his fellow Democrats put an end to it.[57]

Before his Senate swearing-in in 2010, rumors suggested that the Republican Party was courting Manchin to change parties.[58] Although the Republicans later suggested that Manchin was the source of the rumors,[59] they attempted to convince him again in 2014 after retaking control of the Senate.[60] He again rejected their overtures.[61] As the 2016 elections approached, reports speculated that Manchin would switch to the Republican Party if the Senate were in a 50-50 tie.[62] However, he later stated that he would stay with the Democratic Party for at least as long as he remained in the Senate.[63]

On January 8, 2019, Manchin was one of four Democrats to vote to advance a bill imposing sanctions against the Syrian government and furthering U.S. support for Israel and Jordan as Democratic members of the chamber employed tactics to end the stalemate of the United States federal government shutdown of 2018–2019.[64] In April 2019, he endorsed Republican Senator Susan Collins for her 2020 re-election campaign.[65]


In March 2019, Manchin was a cosponsor of a bill that would have included consumer-reported data along with data from state and local governments into consideration during mapping of which areas have broadband and that would take into consideration the measures used to challenge broadband services. Manchin called himself "the only member of Congress to formally challenge a federal broadband coverage map through the Mobility Fund Phase II challenge process" and referred to the bill as "a good first step" in implementing public input in provider data.[66]

In August 2019, Manchin sent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai eight letters that contained results from speed tests across his state of West Virginia as part of an effort to highlight incorrect broadband coverage maps in the state. Manchin opined that "devastating impacts on the tourism industry" in West Virginia were being caused by a lack of broadband access and that the same things that had attracted people to visit West Virginia such as its tall mountains, forests, hills, and rapids had made "broadband deployment astronomically expensive."[67]


In July 2017, he urged Trump to block the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to Chinese investors, arguing that China's "rejection of fundamental free-market norms and property rights of private citizens makes me strongly doubt whether an Exchange operating under the direct control of a Chinese entity can be trusted to 'self-regulate' now and in the future." He also expressed concern "that the challenges plaguing the Chinese market – lack of transparency, currency manipulation, etc. – will bleed into the Chicago Stock Exchange and adversely impact financial markets across the country."[68]

In November 2017, in response to efforts by China to purchase tech companies based in the US, Manchin was one of nine senators to cosponsor a bill that would broaden the federal government’s ability to prevent foreign purchases of U.S. firms through increasing the strength of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The scope of the CFIUS would be expanded to allow it to review along with possibly decline smaller investments and add additional national security factors for CFIUS to consider including if information about Americans would be exposed as part of transactions or whether the deal would facilitate fraud.[69]

Disaster relief[edit]

In May 2019, Manchin and Republican John Cornyn introduced the Disaster Recovery Funding Act, a bill that would direct the Office of Management and Budget to release 16 billion for disaster relief funding within 60 days to nine states and two U.S. Territories. Manchin stated that West Virginia had been awaiting funding for rebuilding for three years since a series of floods in June 2016 and that he was proud to work with Cornyn on a bipartisan solution.[70]


In 2018, Manchin was one of 17 Democrats to break with their party and vote with Republicans to ease the Dodd-Frank banking rules.[71]

Donald Trump[edit]

Manchin welcomed Donald Trump's presidency, saying: "He'll correct the trading policies, the imbalance in our trade policies, which are horrible." He supported the idea of Trump "calling companies to keep them from moving factories overseas."[31] Manchin voted for most of the Trump nominees. He was the only Democrat to vote in confirmation of Trump cabinet appointees Jeff Sessions[72] and Steven Mnuchin,[73] one of two Democrats who voted to confirm Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, and one of three who voted to confirm Rex Tillerson.[74]

In his 2018 campaign for Senate, Manchin announced that he supports Trump's proposal to construct a border wall along the southern border of the continental United States.[75] He also said that he regrets voting for Hillary Clinton and would be open to supporting Donald Trump for president in 2020.[76]


In June 2011, Manchin joined Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in seeking a crackdown on Bitcoin currency transactions, saying that they facilitated illegal drug trade transactions. "The transactions leave no traditional [bank transfer] money trail for investigators to follow, and leave it hard to prove a package recipient knew in advance what was in a shipment," using an "'anonymizing network' known as Tor."[77] One opinion website said the senators wanted "to disrupt [the] Silk Road drug website."[78]

In May 2012, in an effort to reduce prescription drug abuse, Manchin successfully proposed an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration re-authorization bill to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance.[79]

In March 2017, Manchin was one of twenty-one senators to sign a letter led by Ed Markey to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell which noted that 12 percent of adult Medicaid beneficiaries had some form or a substance abuse disorder in addition to one third of treatment administered for opioid and other substance use disorders in the United States being financed through Medicaid and opined that the American Health Care Act could "very literally translate into a death spiral for those with opioid use disorders" due to the insurance coverage lacking and not having the adequate funds to afford care oftentimes resulting in individuals abandoning substance use disorder treatment.[80]

Energy and environment[edit]

Manchin sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and supports a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy approach that uses coal.[81]

Manchin's first bill in the Senate dealt with what he calls the EPA's overreach. After the EPA vetoed a previously-approved permit for the Spruce Mine in Logan County, West Virginia, Senator Manchin offered the "EPA Fair Play Act."[82] The bill would "clarify and confirm the authority of the Environment Protection Agency to deny or restrict the use of defined areas as disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or filled material."[83] Manchin said the bill would prevent the agency from "changing its rules on businesses after permits have already been granted."[84]

On October 6, 2010, Manchin directed a lawsuit aimed at overturning new federal rules concerning mountaintop removal mining. Filed by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the lawsuit "accuses U.S. EPA of overstepping its authority and asks the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to throw out the federal agency's new guidelines for issuing Clean Water Act permits for coal mines." In order to qualify for the permits, mining companies need to prove their projects would not cause the concentration of pollutants in the local water to rise 5 times past the normal level. The New York Times reported that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the new legislation would protect 95 percent of aquatic life by banning operators from dumping mine waste into streams.[85]

Manchin has received criticism from environmentalists due to his close family ties to the coal industry. He served as president of Energysystems in the late 1990s before becoming active in politics. On his financial disclosures in 2009 and 2010, his reported earnings from the company were $1,363,916 and $417,255 respectively.[86] Critics have stated his opposition to health regulations that would raise expenses for the industry are due to his stake in the industry; Jim Sconyers, chairman of West Virginia's Sierra Club chapter stated that "he's been nothing but a mouthpiece for the coal industry his whole public life."[86] However, opinions on the subject are mixed; The Charleston Gazette noted "the prospect that Manchin's $1.7 million-plus in recent Enersystems earnings might tilt him even more strongly pro-coal might seem remote, given the deep economic and cultural connections that the industry maintains in West Virginia."[87]

On November 14, 2011, Manchin chaired his first field hearing of that committee in Charleston, West Virginia, to focus on Marcellus Shale natural gas development and production. Manchin said, "We are literally sitting on top of tremendous potential with the Marcellus shale. We need to work together to chart a path forward in a safe and responsible way that lets us produce energy right here in America."[88]

Manchin supports building the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada. Manchin has said, "It makes so much common sense that you want to buy [oil] off your friends and not your enemies." The pipeline would span over 2,000 miles across the United States.[89]

On November 9, 2011, Manchin introduced the "Fair Compliance Act" with Senator Dan Coats (R-IN). Their bill would "lengthen timelines and establish benchmarks for utilities to comply with two major Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules. The legislation would extend the compliance deadline for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR, by three years and the deadline for the Utility MACT rule by two years—setting both to January 1, 2017."[90]

Manchin introduced the "American Alternative Fuels Act" on May 10, 2011, with Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). The bill would remove restrictions on the development of alternative fuels, repeal part of the 2007 energy bill restricting the federal government from buying alternative fuels and encourage the development of algae-based fuels and synthetic natural gas. Regarding the bill, Manchin said, "Our unacceptably high gas prices are hurting not only West Virginians, but all Americans, and they underscore a critical need: the federal government needs to be a partner, not an obstacle, for businesses that can transform our domestic energy resources into gas."[91]

In 2011, Manchin was the only Democratic senator to support the proposed Energy Tax Prevention Act, which sought to prohibit the United States Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas.[92] He was also one of four Democratic senators to vote against the Stream Protection Rule.[93] In 2012 Manchin supported a GOP effort to "scuttle Environmental Protection Agency regulations that mandate cuts in mercury pollution and other toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants", while West Virginia's other senator, Jay Rockefeller, did not.[94]

In December 2014, Manchin was one of six Democratic senators to sign a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to give states more time to comply with its rule on power plants as the final rule "must provide adequate time for the design, permitting and construction of such large scale capital intensive infrastructure" and calling for an elimination of the 2020 targets in the final rule, a mandate that states take action by 2020 as part of the EPA's goal to reach a 30 percent carbon cut by 2030.[95]

Manchin criticized Obama's environmental regulations as a "war on coal" and demanded what he described as a proper balance between the needs of the environment and the coal business.[96] The Los Angeles Times has noted that while professing environmental concerns, he has consistently stood up for coal, saying "no one is going to stop using fossil [fuels] for a long time." He "does not deny the existence of man-made climate change," wrote the Los Angeles Times, but "is reluctant to curtail it."[97] In February 2017, he was one of only two Democratic senators to vote to confirm Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.[98] In June 2017, Manchin supported President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, saying he supported "a cleaner energy future" but that the Paris deal failed to strike "a balance between our environment and the economy."[99]

In July 2018, along with fellow Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republicans James Risch and Lamar Alexander, Manchin introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, a bill that would reallocate $1.3 billion annually from energy development on federal lands and waters to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program intended to conserve fish and wildlife.[100]

In February 2019, in response to reports of the EPA intending to decide against setting drinking water limits for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as part of an upcoming national strategy to manage the aforementioned class of chemicals, Manchin was one of twenty senators to sign a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler calling on the agency "to develop enforceable federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, as well as institute immediate actions to protect the public from contamination from additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)."[101] In April 2019, Manchin was one of three Democratic Senators who voted with Republicans to confirm David Bernhardt, an oil executive, as Secretary of the Interior Department.[102]

In May 2019, along with Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Martha McSally, Manchin introduced the American Mineral Security Act, a bill that would codify current methodology that was used by the United States to list critical minerals and require the aforementioned list to be updated at least once over a period of three years. McSally's office also stated the bill would mandate nationwide resource assessments for every critical mineral.[103]

Federal budget[edit]

Manchin has co-sponsored balanced budget amendments put forth by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT),[104] Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Mark Udall (D-CO).[105] He has also voted against raising the federal debt ceiling.[106]

Manchin has expressed strong opposition to entitlement reform, describing Mitch McConnell's comments in October 2018 on the need to reform entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare as "absolutely ridiculous."[107] In January 2019, Manchin supported both Republican and Democratic bills to end a government shutdown.[108] He was the only Democrat to break from his party and vote in favor of the Republican proposal.[109]

On August 1, 2019, the Senate passed a bipartisan budget deal that raised spending over current levels by 320 billon and lifted the debt ceiling for the following two years in addition to forming a course for funding the government without the perceived fiscal brinkmanship of recent years. Manchin joined Tom Carper and Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Scott in issuing a statement asserting that "as former Governors, we were responsible for setting a budget each year that was fiscally responsible to fund our priorities. That’s why today, we, as U.S. Senators, cannot bring ourselves to vote for this budget deal that does not put our country on a fiscally sustainable path."[110]

Foreign policy[edit]

Manchin is critical of American military intervention overseas, particularly in Afghanistan and Syria. He has repeatedly demanded the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and has opposed military intervention in Syria.[111][112][113][114]

On June 21, 2011, Manchin delivered a speech on the Senate floor calling for a "substantial and responsible reduction in the United States' military presence in Afghanistan." He said, "We can no longer afford to rebuild Afghanistan and America. We must choose. And I choose America."[115] Manchin's remarks were criticized by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) as "at least uninformed about history and strategy and the challenges we face from radical Islamic extremism."[112] Manchin made similar remarks in a press conference on January 7, 2014, arguing that "all of the money and all of the military might in the world will not change that part of the world." He said that by the end of the year, the American troops in that country should only be at Bagram Airfield.[111] After the deaths of three American soldiers in Afghanistan in November 2018, Manchin renewed his calls for the withdraw of American troops from the country, saying that both presidents Obama and Trump had expressed support for taking troops out of the country but had not done so. "They all seem to have the rhetoric, and no one seems to have the follow up. It's time to come out of there," he said.[112]

Manchin introduced legislation to reduce the use of overseas service and security contractors. He successfully amended the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act to cap contractors' taxpayer funded salaries at $230,000.[116]

Following the Ghouta chemical attack in August 2013 during the Syrian Civil War, Manchin said, "There is no doubt that an attack occurred and there is no doubt it was produced under the Assad regime. It's not clear cut if Assad gave the order himself. It has not been proven." He opposed any strikes on the Syrian Government in retaliation for the attacks. Instead, he introduced a joint resolution with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) requesting that President Obama come up with a long-term strategy on Syria and work diplomatically to ensure the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons.[113] On September 16, 2014, Manchin announced that he would vote against a possible Senate resolution to arm Syrian opposition fighters. "At the end of the day, most of the arms that we give to people are used against us. Most of the people we train turn against us," he said. He referred to plans calling for ground troops in Syria, which had been proposed by some Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, as "insanity."[114] However, he supported the 2017 Shayrat missile strike launched by order of President Trump in response to a chemical weapons attack allegedly perpetrated by the Syrian Government. Manchin said that "yesterday's strike was important to send a message to the Syrian regime and their Russian enablers that these horrific actions will not be tolerated."[117]

In June 2017, Manchin was one of five Democrats who, by voting against a Senate resolution disapproving of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, ensured its failure. Potential primary opponent Paula Jean Swearengin charged that because of Manchin's vote, weapons sold to the Saudis "could possibly end up in the hands of terrorists."[118]


In 2012 Manchin's candidacy was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which gave him an "A" rating.[119] Following the Sandy Hook shooting, Manchin partnered with Republican senator Pat Toomey to introduce a bill that would have strengthened background checks on gun sales. The Manchin-Toomey bill was defeated on April 17, 2013, by a vote of 54–46; 60 votes would have been required to pass it.[56] Despite the fact that the bill did not pass, the NRA targeted Manchin in an attack ad.[120][121][122]

Manchin was criticized in 2013 for agreeing to an interview with The Journal in Martinsburg, West Virginia, but demanding that he not be asked any questions about gun control or the Second Amendment.[123]

In 2016, referring to the difficulty of keeping guns out of the hands of potential terrorists, Manchin said, "due process is what's killing us right now." This comment drew the criticism of both the NRA and the Cato Institute, which accused Manchin of attacking a fundamental constitutional principle. "With all respect," commented Ilya Shapiro of Cato, "due process is the essential basis of America."[124][125]

In a March 2018 interview, following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in which seventeen people were killed, Manchin stated that the Manchin-Toomey bill should serve as the base for a new gun control law and that Trump expressing support for background checks would set his legacy and "give Republicans enough cover to support this in the most reasonable, responsible way."[126]

Health care[edit]

In 2010, Manchin called for "repairs" of the Affordable Care Act and repeal of the "bad parts of Obamacare".[127][128] On January 14, 2017, Manchin expressed concern at the strict party-line vote on repealing Obamacare and said he could not, in good conscience, vote to repeal without a new plan in place. He added, however, that he was willing to work with Trump and the GOP to formulate a replacement.[129] In June 2017, Manchin and Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania warned that repealing Obamacare would worsen the opioid crisis.[130] In July 2017, he said that he was one of about ten senators from both parties who had been "working together behind the scenes" to formulate a new health-care program, but that there was otherwise insufficient bipartisanship on the issue.[131]

During 2016-17, Manchin read to the Senate several letters from constituents about loved ones' deaths from opioids and urged his colleagues to act to prevent more deaths. Manchin took "an unusual proposal" to President Trump to address the crisis and called for a "war on drugs" that involves not punishment but treatment. He proposed the LifeBOAT Act, which would fund treatment. He also opposes marijuana legalization.[132][133] In January 2018, Manchin was one of six Democrats who broke with their party to vote to confirm Trump's nominee for Health Secretary, Alex Azar.[134]

In his 2018 re-election campaign, Manchin emphasized his support for Obamacare, running an ad where he shot holes in a lawsuit that sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act.[128]

In January 2019, Manchin was one of six Democratic senators to introduce the American Miners Act of 2019, a bill that would amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to swap funds in excess of the amounts needed to meet existing obligations under the Abandoned Mine Land fund to the 1974 Pension Plan as part of an effort to prevent its insolvency as a result of coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis. It also increased the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund tax and ensured that miners affected by the 2018 coal company bankruptcies would not lose their health care.[135]


In April 2019, Manchin was one of forty-one senators to sign a bipartisan letter to the housing subcommittee praising the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 4 Capacity Building program as authorizing "HUD to partner with national nonprofit community development organizations to provide education, training, and financial support to local community development corporations (CDCs) across the country" and expressing disappointment that President Trump's budget "has slated this program for elimination after decades of successful economic and community development." The senators wrote of their hope that the subcommittee would support continued funding for Section 4 in Fiscal Year 2020.[136]


Manchin is opposed to the DREAM Act, and was absent from a 2010 vote on the bill.[137] Manchin supports the construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States.[138][139] He opposed the Obama administration's lawsuit against Arizona over that state's immigration enforcement law.[140] Manchin voted against the McCain-Coons proposal to create a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants without funding for a border wall and he voted against a comprehensive immigration bill proposed by Susan Collins which gave a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers as well as funding for border security; he voted 'yes' to withholding funding for 'sanctuary cities' and he voted in support of President Trump's proposal to give a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, build a border wall, and reduce legal immigration.[141][142]

Manchin has mixed ratings from political action committees opposed to illegal immigration; NumbersUSA, which seeks to reduce illegal and legal immigration, gave Manchin a 55% rating and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which also seeks to reduce legal immigration, gave him a 25% rating.[143]

LGBT rights[edit]

On December 9, 2010, Manchin was the sole Democrat to vote against cloture for the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained a provision to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In an interview with The Associated Press, Manchin cited the advice of retired military chaplains as a basis for his decision to vote against repeal.[144] He also indicated he wanted more time to "hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia."[145] A day later, he was publicly criticized at a gay rights rally for his position on the bill.[146] On July 26, 2017, he came out against Trump's purposed ban on transgender service in the United States military[147]

As of February 2019, Manchin was the only member of the Senate Democratic Caucus to oppose same-sex marriage.[148] He is the only Democratic Senator to not have declared support for same-sex marriage.[149][150] On February 14, 2018, he cosponsored S.515, a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to clarify that all provisions shall apply to legally married same-sex couples in the same manner as other married couples.[151] As of March 18, 2019 he is the only member of the Senate Democratic Caucus who is not a cosponsor of the Equality Act.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights group in America, gave Manchin a score of 30% in the 115th Congress, a score 85% in the 114th Congress, and a score of 65% in the 113th Congress.


In April 2019, Manchin cosponsored the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act, legislation that authorized medical records of patients being treated for substance use disorder being shared among healthcare providers in the event that the patient provided the information. Cosponsor Shelley Moore Capito stated that the bill also prevented medical providers from unintentionally providing opioids to individuals in recovery.[152] In July 2019, Manchin issued a release in which he called for a 1.4 billion settlement from Reckitt Benckiser Group to be used for both programs and resources that would address the opioid epidemic.[153]

Senior citizens[edit]

To help locate missing senior citizens, Manchin introduced the Silver Alert Act in July 2011 to create a nationwide network for locating missing adults and senior citizens modeled after the AMBER Alert.[154] Manchin also sponsored the National Yellow Dot Act to create a voluntary program that would alert emergency services personnel responding to car accidents of the availability of personal and medical information on the car's owner.[155]

Manchin said in 2014 that he "would change Social Security completely. I would do it on an inflationary basis, as far as paying into payroll taxes, and change that, to keep us stabilized as far as cash flow. I'd do COLAs—I'd talk about COLA for 250 percent of poverty guidelines." Asked whether this meant he would "cut benefits to old people," Manchin said that "a rich old person...won't get the COLAs." He asked: "Do you want chained CPI? I can live with either one."[156]

Supreme Court nominations[edit]

Manchin with Brett Kavanaugh in 2018

Manchin was the first Democrat to say he would vote for Trump's first nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. Manchin said, "During his time on the bench, Judge Gorsuch has received praise from his colleagues who have been appointed by both Democrats and Republicans. He has been consistently rated as a well-qualified jurist, the highest rating a jurist can receive, and I have found him to be an honest and thoughtful man."[157]

He was the first Democrat to announce that he would meet with Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.[158] Manchin was the only Democrat to vote 'yes' on the cloture of Kavanaugh's nomination, advancing the motion to a final vote.[159] On October 5, 2018, he announced he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh.[160] On October 6, Manchin was the only Democrat to vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in a 50-48 count.[161]


Manchin opposed Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He called it "a closed process" that "makes little impact in the paychecks of the people in his state." At the same time, he posited the bill contains "some good things...Initially people will benefit", although ultimately voting against it. In turn, NRSC spokesman Bob Salera stated that he had "turned his back and voted with Washington Democrats."[162][163]


In December 2018, Manchin was one of twenty-one senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie calling it "appalling that the VA is not conducting oversight of its own outreach efforts" in spite of suicide prevention being the VA's highest clinical priority and requesting Wilkie "consult with experts with proven track records of successful public and mental health outreach campaigns with a particular emphasis on how those individuals measure success."[164]

In July 2019, Manchin and Republican Marsha Blackburn introduced the Providing Veterans Access to In-State Tuition Act, a bill that would remove a three-year post-discharge requirement and thereby enable student veterans eligibility to receive in-state tuition rates from public schools in the event they decide to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.[165]

In August 2019, when Manchin and Capito announced a collection of grants that totaled to over $7 million dollars intended to aid homeless veterans under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program, Manchin opined that the funding would "help veterans secure housing, which in turn helps them secure steady jobs and gives them another opportunity to contribute to their communities."[166]

Committee assignments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Manchin is a member of the National Rifle Association and a licensed pilot.[5][167][168] In 1967, he married Gayle Conelly. Together they have three children: Heather, Joseph IV, and Brooke.[5]

In 2006 and 2010 Manchin delivered commencement addresses at Wheeling Jesuit University and at Davis & Elkins College, receiving honorary degrees from both institutions.

In December 2012, Manchin voiced his displeasure with MTV's new reality show Buckwild, set in his home state's capital Charleston, and asked the network's president to cancel the show, which, he argued, depicted West Virginia in a negative, unrealistic fashion.[169] The show ended after its first season.[170]


Heather Bresch[edit]

West Virginia University (WVU) awarded Manchin's daughter, Heather Bresch, an MBA in 2007, the year she became COO at Mylan Inc., the third largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer in the U.S. with headquarters in Morgantown, adjacent to the WVU campus. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that in order to justify this degree, university officials had added courses to her transcript that she had never taken and altered grades she had received. The ensuing controversy resulted in the rescinding of her MBA and the resignation of the university president, Mike Garrison, a Manchin family friend, and Garrison's legal counsel and the Dean of the Business School. A panel was convened to fully investigate the measure.[171] When the MBA controversy erupted, according to The Huntington News, Manchin "act[ed] as though he and his wife, Gayle, were somehow the victims of this hoax that almost cost WVU its academic credibility." According to the Huntington News, "the Manchins were seen as people willing to destroy [the university's] reputation rather than admit a mistake."[172]

Noting in a December 2011 editorial that the magazine Esquire had promoted Heather Bresch as an "American hero" owing to her support for a pharma safety law, the Huntington News pointed out that the law also protected U.S. pharma firms like Mylan and suggested that the article was a "public makeover" engineered by "the Manchin public relations machine." It also said that Mylan "must have the only corporate Board of Directors in the country that doesn't care about one of their top execs being proven to have a phony MBA degree."[173]

Despite Manchin's call for a war on drugs, particularly opioids, and his charge that "Big Pharma" had "targeted" his state, Manchin's daughter, as noted, is the CEO of Mylan, a pharmaceutical firm that produces opioids, and Manchin himself accepted "nearly $180,000 in donations from pharmaceutical companies between 2011 and 2016."[174] In August 2016, Fortune Magazine and the Washington Post ran a total of three articles about the fact that the "CEO of the company at the center of the EpiPen controversy" was Manchin's daughter. The articles noted that skyrocketing EpiPen costs were "the next big flash point in the national debate over skyrocketing prescription drug prices," that Bresch had originally gotten her Mylan job through her father, and that her career had "risen along with her father's, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by her critics." A particular point of controversy was the fact that Bresch had transferred Mylan's official headquarters to the Netherlands, a tax dodge maneuver known as tax inversion.[175]

Family lawsuit[edit]

In a lawsuit filed in July 2014, Dr. John Manchin II, one of Joe Manchin's brothers, sued Joe Manchin and his other brother, Roch Manchin, over a $1.7 million loan. The lawsuit alleged that Joe and Roch Manchin borrowed the money to keep the doors open at the family-owned carpet business run by Roch, that no part of the loan had yet been repaid, and that the defendants had taken other measures to evade compensating John Manchin II for non-payment.[176] Dr. Manchin withdrew the suit on June 30, 2015.[177]

Manchin's coal interests[edit]

In July 2011, The New York Times ran a long article headlined "Sen. Manchin Maintains Lucrative Ties to Family-Owned Coal Company." Manchin's 2009 and 2010 financial disclosures included major earnings from Enersystems Inc., "a coal brokerage that he helped run before his political star rose." Many senators earn business income, but Manchin is rare in that "he derives income from an industry while acting as one of its biggest boosters."[86]

Skipping votes and convention[edit]

On December 18, 2010, Manchin skipped the vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the vote on the DREAM Act, regarding immigration. The National Republican Senatorial Committee criticized Manchin for attending a family Christmas gathering instead of voting on these important issues. "For a Senator who has only been on the job a few weeks," commented the NRSC, "Manchin's absence today, and the apparent lack of seriousness with which he takes the job he was elected to do, speaks volumes."[178] The Washington Post reported that he was the only Senate Democrat to miss these votes "on two of his party's signature pieces of legislation."[179] Later, in 2012, Manchin also skipped the Democratic National Convention, saying he planned "to spend this fall focused on the people of West Virginia."[180]

Electoral history[edit]

Democratic primary results[181]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 149,362 52.73
Democratic Lloyd M. Jackson II 77,052 27.20
Democratic Jim Lees 40,161 14.18
Democratic Lacy Wright, Jr. 4,963 1.75
Democratic Jerry Baker 3,009 1.06
Democratic James A. Baughman 2,999 1.06
Democratic Phillip Frye 2,892 1.02
Democratic Lou Davis 2,824 1.00
Total votes 283,262 100.00
West Virginia gubernatorial election, 2004[182]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Joe Manchin 472,758 63.51% +13.39%
Republican Monty Warner 253,131 34.00% -13.21%
Mountain Jesse Johnson 18,430 2.48% +0.87%
Write-ins 114 0.02%
Margin of victory 219,627 29.50% +26.58%
Total votes 744,433
Democratic hold Swing
Democratic primary results[183]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin (incumbent) 264,775 74.62
Democratic Mel Kessler 90,074 25.38
Total votes 354,849 100.00

Republican Party[edit]

Republican primary results[183]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Russ Weeks 81,019 100.00
Total votes 81,019 100.00
West Virginia gubernatorial election, 2008[184]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Joe Manchin (incumbent) 492,697 69.81% +6.30%
Republican Russ Weeks 181,612 25.73% -8.27%
Mountain Jesse Johnson 31,486 4.46% +1.99%
Margin of victory 311,085 44.08% +14.57%
Total votes 705,795 100%
Democratic hold Swing
Democratic Primary results[185]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin 67,498 72.9
Democratic Ken Hechler 16,039 17.3
Democratic Sheirl Fletcher 9,035 9.8
Total votes 92,572 100
United States Senate special election in West Virginia, 2010 results[186]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Joe Manchin 283,358 53.47% -10.96%
Republican John Raese 230,013 43.40% +9.69%
Mountain Jesse Johnson 10,152 1.92% +0.06%
Constitution Jeff Becker 6,425 1.21% N/A
Majority 53,345 10.07%
Total votes 529,948 100
Democratic hold Swing
Democratic primary results[187]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin (incumbent) 163,891 79.9
Democratic Sheirl Fletcher 41,118 20.1
Total votes 205,009 100
United States Senate election in West Virginia, 2012[188]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Joe Manchin (incumbent) 399,908 60.57% +7.10%
Republican John Raese 240,787 36.47% -6.93%
Mountain Bob Henry Baber 19,517 2.96% +1.04%
Total votes 660,212 100.0% N/A
Democratic hold
Democratic primary results, West Virginia 2018[189]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Manchin (incumbent) 112,658 69.86%
Democratic Paula Jean Swearengin 48,594 30.14%
Total votes 161,252 100%
United States Senate election in West Virginia, 2018[190]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Joe Manchin (incumbent) 290,510 49.57% -11.0%
Republican Patrick Morrisey 271,113 46.26% +9.79%
Libertarian Rusty Hollen 24,411 4.17% N/A
Total votes 586,034 100% N/A
Democratic hold


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Further reading[edit]



External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ken Hechler
Secretary of State of West Virginia
Succeeded by
Betty Ireland
Preceded by
Bob Wise
Governor of West Virginia
Succeeded by
Earl Ray Tomblin
Preceded by
Jim Douglas
Chair of National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Christine Gregoire
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Wise
Democratic nominee for Governor of West Virginia
2004, 2008
Succeeded by
Earl Ray Tomblin
Preceded by
Robert Byrd
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from West Virginia
(Class 1)

2010, 2012, 2018
Most recent
Preceded by
Debbie Stabenow
Vice Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Carte Goodwin
United States Senator (Class 1) from West Virginia
Served alongside: Jay Rockefeller, Shelley Moore Capito
Preceded by
Maria Cantwell
Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Chris Coons