Newly elected West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, is the latest target of Republican scorn after skipping several pivotal votes this weekend to attend a Christmas party -- including votes on the DREAM Act, the nuclear START Treaty and the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
“For a senator who has only been on the job a few weeks, Manchin’s absence today, and the apparent lack of seriousness with which he takes the job he was elected to do, speaks volumes,” Brian Walsh, communications director of the National Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Saturday.
According to The Charleston Gazette, Manchin and his family had planned a "holiday gathering over a year ago with all their children and grandchildren" because they could not be together on Christmas Day.
“While he regrets missing the votes, it was a family obligation that he could not break,”a Manchin spokesperson said.
The GOP may be especially miffed with the new Democratic Senator after he had pledged the oppose the DREAM Act and DADT repeal, two votes that would have bolstered the Republicans' vote counts. But missing these crucial votes may not bode well for Manchin's re-election campaign which comes in 2012 after he serves out the remainder of the late Sen. Robert Byrd's term.
“I’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,” Walsh said. “But perhaps in Joe Manchin’s world today was a win-win — not only was he able to skip work and party but he was also able to avoid voting on two very sensitive political issues.”
The Washington Post also points out that Manchin's absence "stood in contrast to the presence of another Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who despite a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer, made it in for Saturday’s votes. (Wyden is slated to undergo surgery on Monday.)”
Further, Senate GOP aides pointed out that Manchin could have booked a seat on a flight after the votes and would have landed in Charleston in time to attend the party.