Joe Manchin might no longer be a deciding vote in the Democrats‘ narrow Senate majority, but he’s still finding ways to be a thorn in President Joe Biden‘s side ahead of a potential challenge for re-election in 2024.
On Thursday, the West Virginia Democrat appeared on Fox News‘ “America’s Newsroom” with Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun to promote a bill the two men were sponsoring alongside West Virginia Republican Shelly Capito challenging a Biden Administration rule allowing Wall Street firms to base their investment strategies for Americans’ retirement funds on social issues, rather than solely profits.
The principle—commonly referred to as environmental, social, and corporate governance—puts the country’s economy “in jeopardy” by allowing companies to place environmental concerns over profit in a move they said would undermine investors’ ability to maximize the value of their retirement funds.
But Manchin also claimed the practice could potentially undermine U.S. energy security by permitting companies to move away from investments in fossil fuels—a sector that continues to play a significant role in his state’s economy.
“Look at what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin did when he weaponized energy,” Manchin said. “The geopolitical risk should be evaluated the same as anything else…if you’re trying to put pressure and get rid of fossil [fuels] before we have anything to replace it, you are going to damage our economy and make our country much weaker. That’s why I’ve been fighting for energy security. These geopolitical risks should be evaluated just as much as they’re talking about ESG.”
Manchin’s bill—which has already received support from roughly half of the Senate chamber—is just one of several points in which he’s come out against some Biden administration proposals to start this Congress.
On Thursday, Manchin made waves in one of the first meetings of his Senate Energy Committee by introducing legislation squarely aimed at a Biden Administration initiative to phase out the use of gas stoves in newly constructed buildings—a policy recommendation that has since become a rallying cry for conservatives as an example of overreach by the Democratic administration.
“I can tell you one thing, they’re not taking my gas stove out,” Manchin defiantly declared in an announcement of legislation he was co-sponsoring with Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz to circumvent any future bans on gas stoves Thursday… The federal government doesn’t have any business telling people how to cook their dinner.”
For Manchin, the recent moves are standard fare for a lawmaker considered one of Congress’ most conservative Democrats. But they could also be seen as politically prudent decisions ahead of a potential challenge from West Virginia’s Republican Governor, Jim Justice, in 2024.
Manchin is widely considered the only Democrat in the state still able to compete in statewide elections and is still seen as a key factor in Democrats’ ability to hold onto their Senate majority in 2024. However, he has so far been coy about his political future.
In a Sunday appearance on Meet The Press, the 75-year-old declined to share specifics not only in response to questions about whether he planned to run for re-election but whether he would do so as a Republican or a Democrat as Justice has begun strongly suggesting his intention to jump into the race.
“Everything is on the table,” he said. “The only thing I can tell you is what I will do is whatever I can, when I make my decision what I think is the best that I can support and represent the people of West Virginia, but also be true to this country and the Constitution of this country.”