In his short time in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has fast earned a reputation for brokering deals and being a voice of reason amongst fierce partisans on both sides of the political aisle. After introducing and fighting hard for a compromise bill to expand background checks on gun sales last April, Manchin is forging an alternative to the current resolution before Congress on military action in Syria.
Joined by freshman Democrat from North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp, Manchin is floating a draft resolution that gives diplomacy one last chance.
“I don’t see an imminent threat to the United States of America,” Senator Manchin told Hardball’s Chris Matthews. “I think more diplomacy should be used,” he said.
Manchin and Heitkamp’s proposal gives Syrian President Bashar al-Assad 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the threat of all elements of U.S. military power.
It requires President Obama to provide Congress a diplomatic plan to end the violence in Syria and compels him to build more international support before striking Syria. Both Manchin and Heitkamp have announced their intentions to vote “no” on the current resolution to authorize the President to use military force.
“We’re not trying to make a deal with him [Assad],” Manchin said. “We’re just saying ‘sign up.’”
Manchin himself intends to vote against the resolution passed by the Foreign Relations Committee unless a more moderate alternative surfaces; he also acknowledged that getting the resolution passed out of the full Senate could be harder than previously thought.
“I’d say it’s a hard reach right now for 60,” the West Virginia Democrat said. “I believe you have 40-some who said they’re undecided. I know more are decided just haven’t declared where they are,” he continued. “It’s going to be hard.”
NBC’s current whip count of the authorization has 22 senators favoring it, 22 opposing it, and 56 senators who are are undecided.
“Just because you have super might and super military, you better have super diplomacy, super humanitarian aid, and awful lot goes with that,” said Senator Manchin.