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Fresh off a primary victory in West Virginia’s U.S. Senate contest, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey took a shot at his opponent in the general election in a radio interview with Breitbart, saying Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin too often stands against President Donald Trump.
Referring to Trump’s appointee to the Supreme Court, Morrisey said, "If Joe Manchin had his way, Judge (Neil) Gorsuch never would have been able to get a vote" in the Senate.
Morrisey went on to say, "Whether we're talking judicial picks, whether we're talking Trump tax cuts, whether we're talking unwillingness to change the failed Obamacare ... Joe Manchin has not stood with President Trump."
Manchin’s support for Trump (or lack thereof) is likely to be a major campaign wedge for Morrisey, since Trump is more popular in West Virginia than any other state, according to state-by-state approval ratings released by Gallup in January 2018.
Morrisey is right that Manchin voted against the tax bill supported by Trump and most Republicans. But he isn’t really right about Manchin’s position on Gorsuch.
Here, we’ll look at Manchin’s actions on the Gorsuch nominations; we looked at his positions on Obamacare in a separate fact-check.
Bottom line: When it counted, Manchin voted with Republicans to advance Gorsuch’s nomination.
Morrisey’s camp pointed to three votes on April 6, 2017, during the back-and-forth over Gorsuch when Manchin voted with most Democrats.
In the third vote, Manchin voted not to invoke the "nuclear option," which is a procedural move to lower the number of votes required to advance to a final vote from 60 to a simple majority. In this case, too, Manchin voted with all Democrats and against all Republicans.
However, citing only these three votes paints a misleading picture of Manchin’s actions. In the most important votes for securing Gorsuch a floor vote, Manchin sided with Gorsuch and Republicans — and he’d telegraphed it.
Before the final showdown began, Manchin on March 27, 2017, became the first Democratic senator to publicly break with others in his party and say he’d side with Republicans by committing to vote in favor of proceeding to Gorsuch’s nomination.
By announcing his intention to support a vote for Gorsuch a full 10 days before the final action, he sent a signal to other Democrats who still might have been deciding on what to do.
And Manchin stuck to his word: On April 6, Manchin was one of only four Democrats to vote to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote on Gorsuch’s nomination.
After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., successfully invoked the "nuclear option," the Senate once again voted on cloture, this time needing only a simple majority. Once again, Manchin voted to proceed to Gorsuch’s nomination on April 6, this time becoming one of only three Democrats to side with every Republican on the vote.
Finally, on the actual vote on Gorsuch’s nomination on April 7, Manchin voted in favor, once again making him one of just three Democrats to back Gorsuch in the final vote.
Senate specialist Gregory Koger of the University of Miami said Manchin has the better argument than Morrisey in this case.
"Ordinarily I would place real weight on procedural votes, such as adjournment and on the nuclear option precedent," he said, "but I think there were extenuating circumstances, at least on the precedent vote, and the early public support for Gorsuch more than compensates for these procedural votes."
Morrisey said, "If Joe Manchin had his way, Judge Gorsuch never would have been able to get a vote."
Manchin did side with Democrats on certain procedural votes during the showdown over Gorsuch. But he broadcast his support for a vote on Gorsuch early enough to persuade fence-sitters, and on the main votes, he broke ranks with his party, siding with Republicans to secure Gorsuch a vote and ultimately confirm him to the court.
We rate the statement Mostly False.
Patrick Morrisey, interview with Breitbart radio, May 11, 2018
Roll Call, "Joe Manchin Opposes Filibuster of Neil Gorsuch," March 27, 2017
Gallup, "Trump's Approval Highest in West Virginia, Lowest in Vermont," Jan. 30, 2018
Email interview with Gregory Koger, political scientist at the University of Miami, May 14, 2018
Email interview with Jonathan Kott, spokesperson for Joe Manchin, May 14, 2018
Email interview with Nachama Soloveichik, spokesperson for Patrick Morrisey, May 14, 2018
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