The 50-50 Senate plainly strained things for Schumer and Manchin, who have remained close and cordial even if their ideology and political philosophies don’t always align. Manchin serves on Schumer’s leadership team and has reliably supported Biden’s nominees and many key bills. But he voted against Schumer’s agenda this year on changing the filibuster and an abortion rights bill, and the two signed a secret agreement last summer, focused on the scope of the party spending legislation, that showed plain distrust between the two camps. Yet even through all that, Manchin still signals he’s up for a deal. He’s outlined what he supports — raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, plowing money into energy and climate development, deficit reduction and lowering drug prices. Manchin’s and Schumer’s staffs are having “substantive conversations” about the contents of a package like that, according to a person familiar with the talks. And Manchin says Schumer gets where he’s coming from. “I think he understands it. But you know, Sen. Schumer has a pretty far-left caucus. And with that, there were people in the overwhelming majority who were going a different direction. And he’s the leader of that,” Manchin explained in an interview. “I understand he was in a very difficult position … and we have a very good understanding, and I think, a very good relationship.” Yet there’s still no framework and no handshake deal. There’s no agreement on who is supposed to write a potential agreement. And it’s almost Memorial Day, some Democrats’ unofficial deadline for some making a decision on whether or not to drop the effort to pass a sweeping Democratic bill along party lines. Asked about where things stand with Manchin, Schumer replied Wednesday: “We’re making progress, got more to do. But we’re making some progress. I’m feeling decent.” Many Democrats fret that dragging things out and failing again would be the worst of all scenarios ahead of a difficult midterm election cycle. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), for one, abandoned the effort mentally months ago. He laughed incredulously when asked about a last-gasp party-line bill: “I put so much time into immigration on reconciliation. It took a year of my legislative life. I have nothing to show for it. I wish Chuck well on reconciliation. I’m going to focus my legislative efforts in the 60-vote world.” Dealing with Manchin is a careful and delicate process for Schumer, a famously chatty leader who constantly calls his members and staffers at all times for the latest updates on politics, policy and everything in between. What’s more, opposing Washington Democrats doesn’t exactly hurt Manchin — his tactics thus far have boosted his poll numbers in West Virginia ahead of a possible 2024 run for reelection. Democratic leaders have learned over the years not to lean on Manchin for his vote, a tactic that might just as easily repel the West Virginian. Because when it comes down to it, Manchin’s bottom line is this: “I have to answer to the people who I represent, who really hire me to do the job of being the representative. And I would hope that all of my caucus colleagues understand.” Yet Democrats’ say they don’t really understand why, if Manchin is ready for a deal, ther . . . read the full article here.