Schumer also neglected to directly answer whether Manchin frustrated him
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer dodged a question in an interview Wednesday about his stance on potential primary challenges against moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema.
The centrists have stirred frustration within the party leadership and among their fellow Democrats in Congress after their opposition in a 50-50 split Senate blocked key parts of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Their role in scuttling federal voting rights legislation last month sparked a progressive protest from primary challengers to oust both senators. The backlash against Sinema included an official censure from the Arizona Democratic Party.
The Manchine and Sinema seats are up for re-election in 2024.
Schumer did not say when asked before CNN Whether he will support or oppose such challenges shifts focus to the much closer November midterm elections.
“I’m focused on 2022, getting things done, and winning the 2022 election,” Schumer said.
I’m not at all focused on 2024 right now, and neither should anyone else. This is exactly what you lose in 2022.”
He advocated forcing a floor vote on Democrats’ right to vote: the John R. Lewis Act and the subsequent vote on whether to break the filibuster to pass the package by a simple majority—both predictably failed.
Schumer concluded that “when it comes to something as momentous as voting rights, it can’t just be pushed off the table.”
Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema’s role in blocking Biden’s voting rights bill last month has led to progressive calls for them to face initial challenges.
Senators are there to vote. We had to vote. I think it was the right decision. And he actually had broad, broad, deep support in our congregation.
He claimed that “talks are ongoing” to pass some form of “build back better” in part of his remarks to CNN from last week but released on Wednesday. On Tuesday, however, Manchin declared Biden’s sweeping social and climate reform bill “dead.”
When asked if Manchin was frustrated, Schumer again neglected to give a clear answer.
Joe Manchin and I go way back a long way, and I obviously told him my point of view and (we’ll try) to convince him, as the entire caucus does, that our point of view is the right one,” he said.
The New York Democrat, who has served in the Senate since 1999, also shrugged off fears of a primary challenge to his seat — for re-election this year.
“When it comes to re-election, I work hard for New York and it always goes well,” Schumer said. “I always look ahead, not over my shoulder.”
Schumer is sure to face more questions about his primary prospects as the election approaches, with rumors dogged for months that rising star progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be running for Senate.
During the interview, Schumer brushed off concerns that he could face his own primary challenge this year, as rumors have swirled that longtime New York senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could take over.
Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t ruled out confronting Schumer in previous interviews, but she hasn’t indicated that she was so inclined either.
Prominent progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders have said they would support primary liberal challenges to Manchin in West Virginia or Senema in Arizona.
Ocasio-Cortez said last week that Sinema did not “make a compelling case” for why she would keep her seat and suggested she would support a primary challenge from Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego.
But talk of exploring Manchine and Sinema’s initial challenges faded in the Senate in the weeks since the vote bill failed.
Progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who earlier suggested she would be open to supporting challenges to moderates, told Politico earlier this week, “We need to get work done.” now. We have Build Back Better still hanging in the balance. I want to work with all 50 Democrats and get something right now.
Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii told the outlet he would not support Sanders’ attempt to unseat Manchin and Sinema.
‘It is a free country.’ He said: I do not recommend it.
Senema’s fellow Mark Kelly, a Democratic senator from Arizona, disputed her censure.
‘We have people talking about an election on the 24th? So, I don’t understand, said the retired astronaut.