In my opinion, Joe Manchin never should have received a slot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the first place. He wasn’t a reliable vote and there was always the possibility that this day would come. Having let him on the committee, however, the solution isn’t to deny him the leadership position by ignoring his accrued seniority. The solution is to convince one of the senators who have more seniority to serve as the ranking member on the committee rather than opting for their current positions. There’s no way Ron Wyden is giving up his top position on the Finance Committee and Maria Cantwell can represent her state’s aeronautical industry best on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. That leaves either Debbie Stabenow or Bernie Sanders. Stabenow seems happy at Agriculture but if she cares about the climate, she will move over. Bernie likes his spot on the Budget Committee but it’s worthless in the minority. He should make the jump to Energy to deny Manchin the slot, but he won’t because when has he ever been a team player?
So, it looks like Manchin will be the top Democrat on the Energy Committee and positioned to become the chairman when the Democrats retake the majority. It’s probably worth begging Stabenow not to let this happen. Most likely, Amy Klobuchar would take her top slot on the Agriculture Committee, and that would be a good spot for her. It might even give her a little boost if she decides to run for president.