Joe Manchin Skips Senate Votes For Holiday Party

While the Senate was spending Saturday debating the START Treaty, and voting on the DREAM Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, West Virginia’s new Senator was back home partying:

When the Senate took two of its most highly anticipated votes of the lame-duck session on Saturday, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was nowhere to be found.

Manchin, who was sworn into office last month after winning a special election for the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), was the only Senate Democrat to miss Saturday’s votes on two of his party’s signature pieces of legislation, the DREAM Act and the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law banning gay people from serving openly in the military.

Sen. Joe Liberman (I-Conn.), who spearheaded the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal effort, told reporters Saturday afternoon that Manchin told him he’d be out of town for “a family thing.”

A Manchin spokesperson told the Charleston Gazette that the senator and his wife had “planned a holiday gathering over a year ago with all their children and grandchildren as they will not all be together on Christmas Day.”

“While he regrets missing the votes, it was a family obligation that he just could not break,” spokesperson Sara Payne Scarbro said. “However, he has been clear on where he stands on the issues.”

Manchin’s absence stood in contrast to the presence of another Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who despite a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer, made it in for Saturday’s votes. (Wyden is slated to undergo surgery on Monday.)

Since his arrival in the Senate last month, Manchin, who is up for reelection in 2012, has lived up to his campaign promise to “take on Washington and this administration” and work independently of national Democrats.

Glad to see you’re doing your job, Senator.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. anjin-san says:

    Not an impressive start for Manchin. If the duties of his office are already cutting into his social life, he ought to commit to being a one term guy right not.

    Wyden, on the other hand, really showed us something this week.

  2. ratufa says:

    Of course, if he really wanted to make these votes, he would have. This is mostly an excuse to not take a stand on controversial bills, especially for a Democrat who spent the election trying to get conservatives to vote for him.

  3. Andre Kenji says:

    He is the new Evan Bayh: an excellent governor, but that does not know how to be a Democratic governor from a conservative state. To be sincere, very few people know how to do that.