Home>Congress>Potomac Watch Sees Danger for Cortez Masto if Schumer Forces BBB Vote

US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto at the Clark County Democratic Party 2020 'Kick Off to Caucus' Gala at the Tropicana Las Vegas in Las Vegas, February 15, 2020. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Potomac Watch Sees Danger for Cortez Masto if Schumer Forces BBB Vote

WSJ podcast thinks yes vote on doomed bill may haunt Senator in November

By Ken Kurson, December 22, 2021 12:30 pm

The best political podcast is Potomac Watch, produced by the Wall Street Journal opinion page.

In Tuesday’s episode, host Kyle Peterson and his two most frequent guests Bill McGurn and Kim Strassel, discuss how “Joe Manchin Torpedoes Build Back Better.”

The entire half hour episode is well worth a listen, but the part that ought to catch Nevadans’ attention occurs when Peterson includes Senator Catherine Cortez Masto among the Democrats facing re-election in 2022 who are probably quietly thanking Joe Manchin for relieving them of the uncomfortable necessity of casting a really unpopular vote.

Nevertheless, on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) added his voice to the chorus of Democrats criticizing Manchin. Schumer promised that even without the necessary 50 votes, he will bring Build Back Better to the floor “so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television.” Put aside how rich it is to hear Schumer, who has never met a camera he doesn’t love, shame one of his colleagues for over-exposure in the media. Beyond that, there’s something strange about the Majority Leader promising a vote that could damage his own caucus.

As McGurn put it, “I believe there are other Democratic Senators saying ‘At least I don’t have to walk the plank on this one.’ … It makes no sense [to force a vote that will lose] unless Chuck Schumer is doing it for a very selfish reason — to buy off a progressive challenge, probably from AOC, in a primary.”

That’s when Peterson included Catherine Cortez Masto, listing her along with Maggie Hassan (NH), Mark Kelly (AZ) and Raphael Warnock (GA) as Democrats who may suffer if forced to vote yes on a doomed bill.

Potomac Watch is the best political podcast, bolstered by its erudite, informed host and guests.

With Joe Biden’s approval rating in the state at -23 (57 disapprove vs 34 approve), it’s not at all clear that a massive spending bill less than a year from Election Day would’ve helped Cortez Masto, who is trying hard to come across as a centrist during her first re-election bid, which unfortunately f for her falls during an unpopular president’s first midterm election.

And now Chuck Schumer has been making noises about forcing a vote anyway, even if he knows it will lose. The idea is to pressure Manchin to vote no in front of, as Bernie Sanders said on CNN, “the whole world.” There is zero indication that Manchin would be reluctant to do that. Trump won West Virginia by almost 39 points in 2020, and Manchin himself enjoys an approval rating in the state nearly twice as Joe Biden’s, according to McGurn.

But if Schumer does force such a maneuver, it will likely harm several members. It won’t harm Manchin, but it will harm several members of his caucus, including Cortez Masto.

Bill McGurn on the same podcast thinks it would be crazy for Schumer to press such a vote knowing it will fail, while also putting several members in jeopardy. So why would Schumer do such a reckless thing? Well the hosts theorized that Schumer is more worried about a primary of his own—they mention Alexandria Ocasio Cortez as a possible challenger — than he is about maintaining his razor thin majority.

In any case it would be fascinating to watch what Cortez Masto and the others do behind the scenes. Do they drive around the state lamenting the bill’s failure to progressive voters, while quietly urging Schumer not to force them to put their name on a bill that is both unpopular and doomed to fail?

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, you need to add Potomac Watch to your daily listening diet. I will make a suggestion to the editors, assuming that they’re reading the Nevada Globe as carefully as they should be. Their free-flowing, respectful conversational style is what gives the podcast its power, it’s clear these three just know what they’re talking about and their erudition is a throwback to a more civilized era. But their occasional factual errors ought to be edited, which could be done without losing the conversational style. In today’s episode, McGurn referred to Manchin and his constituents, the  “people of Maryland.” Obviously, he meant West Virginia. And later in the same episode Strassel refers to how White House staff leaked to the press that Joe Biden opposed expanding the Child Tax Credit.” She obviously meant to say Joe Manchin.

Still, Potomac Watch features the single smartest analysis of the swamp out there and if they say Schumer is putting Catherine Cortez Masto in a tough spot, it’s probably true.

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