It’s not every Pearl Harbor Day when a U.S. senator objects to honoring Pearl Harbor Day. But that’s exactly what unfolded on the Senate floor Wednesday as two Democrats went to the mat to force the Senate to cut a better health care deal for coal miners.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.,and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, both vulnerable senators facing re-election in 2018, took to the Senate floor to block a host of bills and resolutions that usually sail through unnoticed.
Manchin and Brown want a longer guarantee of health benefits for miners beyond April 28. The miners’ health care issue has emerged as a flashpoint on a bill to fund the government through next spring. Funding for the government expires Friday night.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, repeatedly tried to get clearance from Manchin and Brown on a panoply of non-controversial bills Wednesday night. But the Democrats repeatedly objected, effectively blocking each item.
At one point, Tillis tried to advance a measure observing the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Stunningly, Brown objected as he and Manchin had done on all other measures.
Brown said on the Senate floor, “They’re like resolutions that don’t mean anything. But they’re nice. But they don’t mean anything to a widow..(who won’t get health care).”
Brown said,” I suppose we could go all night. I don’t mind working late tonight. I don’t mind working late tomorrow.”
At one point, Brown groused about his GOP colleagues demanding “certainty for corporate America.”
“But it’s working for mine workers to jack them around…pardon my language.”
Brown added, “We’re not leaving…if it means a session on Christmas Day.”
Off the floor, Manchin said, “Does the Senate Democratic stand and fight for working people? We’ll know tomorrow morning.”