By Kyle Trygstad, Roll Call
In office for just more than a month, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin skipped two decisive votes in the Senateâ€™s lame-duck session Saturday â€” an immigration bill and the repeal of the militaryâ€™s â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tellâ€ policy â€” that could affect his future election prospects.
The repeal passed 65-31, while the DREAM Act granting a pathway to citizenship for illegal-immigrant children stalled. Manchinâ€™s office said the Senator had been clear that he did not support either measure, but a prior engagement kept him from attending the weekend votes. Had he voted, Manchin would have been the lone Democrat opposing DADT repeal.
Manchin had â€œplanned a holiday gathering over a year ago with all their children and grandchildren as they will not all be together on Christmas Day,â€ a spokeswoman said Saturday. â€œWhile he regrets missing the votes, it was a family obligation that he just could not break.â€
However, skipping the votes brought even more attention to the Senator who, after winning a special election last month, is running again for a full term in 2012. Roll Call Politics rates his race a Tossup.
â€œIâ€™m sure that most Senators, as well as the hundreds of staffers who had to come to work today, would have rather been at a Christmas Party like Joe Manchin,â€ National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said in a statement going after one of the GOPâ€™s top 2012 targets.Â â€œBut perhaps in Joe Manchinâ€™s world today was a win-win â€” not only was he able to skip work and party, but he was also able to avoid voting on two very sensitive political issues.Â For a Senator who has only been on the job a few weeks, Manchinâ€™s absence today, and the apparent lack of seriousness with which he takes the job he was elected to do, speaks volumes.â€
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