CNN  — 

The shadow of West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin looms large over President Joe Biden’s increasingly ambitious agenda.

Just ask the folks trying to get the infrastructure package rolling in the evenly divided Senate. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he has a meeting with Manchin “in the works” over Biden’s infrastructure proposal.

“I have yet to talk to anybody who, including in conversations with Republicans, who is against the idea of a big investment in infrastructure, right?” Buttigieg said Friday

Even as Senate Democrats got the OK to bend the rules to allow their 50-vote margin to pass key pieces of the Biden agenda, Manchin made it clear his vote is not a guarantee. 

The West Virginia Democrat warned of a “new and dangerous precedent” in a Washington Post op-ed, writing: “Instead of fixating on eliminating the filibuster or shortcutting the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it is time we do our jobs.”

Manchin cited the lessons of January 6 as part of his reasoning: “You can’t have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other,” he told CNN, as he calls for Democrats and Republicans to work together on top legislative priorities.

Yet there doesn’t appear to be much interest in common ground between the Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. While both chambers have been out of town on recess, the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, spent much of last week saying no Republican would be on board with Biden’s plan.

This week, McConnell pushed back hard against corporations’ denouncing GOP-led states passing restrictive voter access legislation.

Despite that, leaders in McConnell’s home state steered in the opposite direction. Kentucky’s Democratic governor approved a bipartisan measure expanding voter access that includes online absentee ballot portals and early voting procedures.

The Point: Whether they like it or not, Manchin appears to have the upper hand with the Biden administration.