“It’s a majority that comes and goes. Sort of like the tide,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). “I don’t know exactly what I expected, but I certainly expected a little bit more clarity.” Now nearly 16 months and running, it’s by far the longest 50-50 Senate in history. And Democrats have had great success confirming President Joe Biden’s nominees, punctuated this week by installing a new FTC commissioner who gave Democrats the majority and the first Black woman on the Federal Reserve Board. But on a day-to-day basis, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s job is an excruciating grind based on whether any of his members have Covid, if Republicans are feeling cooperative and where a handful of Democrats stand. And sometimes Schumer’s tactics expose his own party’s divisions, like when Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voted down an effort to gut the filibuster for elections reform or during Wednesday’s abortion vote. Manchin pleaded with his colleagues at a private party lunch on Tuesday to consider a narrower abortion rights bill than the expansive measure that failed. But Schumer and the caucus charged ahead, and Manchin joined all 50 Senate Republicans in voting no on a bill that would have preserved and, in some cases, expanded abortion rights if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade next month. That left Manchin isolated in his caucus once again — just as he was on filibuster reform and the $1.7 trillion party-line social spending bill known as “Build Back Better.” In an interview, Manchin said he asked Democrats to write a bill that only codified Roe, rather than one that went further by barring states from enacting certain new restrictions on abortion and protecting the right to an abortion later in pregnancies. “I would vote for codification [of] Roe v. Wade, as we’ve had 50 years of precedent,” Manchin said before dubbing the bill his party leaders had chosen “ridiculous.” He recounted telling “all 49 members of my caucus at [Tuesday’s] luncheon” where he stood in favor of simple codification and essentially said his party was being misleading. “They want people to believe it just basically codifies Roe v. Wade,” Manchin added. “It does not just codify Roe v. Wade.” Manchin’s colleagues are not thrilled with either his vote or his rhetoric. In an interview, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said “we just have a different view on what the legislation is trying to do. We are trying to codify not only Roe, but also [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey and all the legal precedent.” “This is a state-of-the-art bill,” Gillibrand said. “I disagree with Sen. Manchin and his staff’s interpretation of what this represents. I also disagree that Sen. [Susan] Collins and [Lisa] Murkowski’s bill codifies Roe. … It’s a good effort, but they left definitions vague.” Large Senate majorities can paper over differences: Manchin has always marched to his own tune, but in the past it often didn’t matter because Democrats had votes to spare. When Manchin opposed changing the Senate rules in 2013 to scrap the 60-vote requirement for most nominations, Democrats had 55 seats and moved ahead without him. Even when Republicans were in the majori . . . read the full article here.