Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a key vote on President Joe Biden's domestic spending agenda, right, walks with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, along the Senate Subway, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

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The Art of the Deal” was Donald Trump’s famous book, but Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Susan Collins offered a master class in the subject over the past couple weeks.

The U.S. Senate sometimes bills itself as the “world’s greatest deliberative body.” That certainly hasn’t held true for the past several decades. However, our history has examples of the body working as intended. Even if you don’t like it.

West Virginia’s Manchin, a Democrat, has been the left’s target of derision since President Joe Biden took office. His colleagues – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – have attacked him publicly. He has infuriated the left-flank of his party by opposing many of their policy prescriptions.  

But Manchin has been in office for a long time. He knows how to strike a deal.

The same is true of Collins, a Republican. Her approach is markedly different from Manchin, but she knows how to get her way.  

Manchin played his cards close to the vest with the Senate GOP. He wanted the so-called “CHIPS Act” to pass, providing funding for the on-shoring of semiconductor production in the United States. In order to do so, he needed to get at least 10 Republican votes.

So Manchin got those votes, apparently by claiming he would not support Democrats’ efforts to rush a “reconciliation” wishlist spending bill on a party-line basis.

Then, while the ink was still drying on the “CHIPS Act” vote, Manchin announced his deal with the Democrats. They called their spending bill – with somewhat silly political newspeak – the “Inflation Reduction Act.”  

It was a bare-knuckled political maneuver. Republicans were outraged. Democrats cheered. Manchin won. He got the CHIPS Act he wanted and also helped advance several of his party’s priorities.

He knew how to work the art of the deal he sought.

Collins took a different tack. Leftists continually attack her for offering “compromise” solutions that don’t go anywhere but garner good headlines. This kicked into overdrive following several recent Supreme Court rulings.

But Collins is no dummy. She knows how to work a deal.

One of the pieces of legislation stymied by Manchin concerned massive changes in federal voting laws. These would override the differing decisions made in each state capital.  

Part of that legislation dealt with the laws governing the Electoral College, the quadrennial body that actually elects the president and vice president. Given the events of Jan. 6, 2021, it was an issue area with a lot of attention.

Collins opposed the Democrats’ massive changes. Part of the reason for that was because it would remove some of Augusta’s authority over Maine elections. She was right.

Yet Collins knew how to make a deal. And, this week, it appeared as if the Senate might coalesce around an electoral count bill spearheaded by Collins.

Collins and Manchin both give their respective political parties fits. Some of their positions differ from their partisan allies. But they know that you do not need to agree with someone on everything to make a deal.

“Dealmaking” gets a bad rap in politics. It shouldn’t. In the real world, we do it every day.

When you go to buy a new car, you make a deal. When you put an offer in on a house, you’re trying to come up with a deal. If you’re playing various cell phone providers off each other, you want the best deal.

Manchin and Collins know how to achieve their objectives in the legislative realm. And while I think the “Inflation Reduction Act” is probably bad policy in several areas, you can respect someone who knows how to cut a political deal.

Michael Cianchette is a Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan. He is in-house counsel to a number of businesses in southern Maine and was a chief counsel to former Gov. Paul LePage.