Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) pledged to ensure Republicans have “input” on the coronavirus aid package moving through Congress, potentially undercutting Democratic leaders’ plans to push the legislation through on a party-line vote.
Manchin appeared on Fox News on Tuesday and clarified his position on the aid package, saying he supports a bipartisan deal or no deal at all. The Democratic senator’s vote carries significant weight in a Senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. Manchin’s defection from the Democrats on the aid package could sink plans by top Democrats in Congress to pass the bill through the process of budget reconciliation.
“What I have told everybody, I made it very clear, from the president of the United States to all of my colleagues, we’re gonna make this work in a bipartisan way,” Manchin said during an interview with Fox News host Bret Baier. “My friends on the other side are going to have input, and we are going to do something we agree on.”
“It has to make sense,” he continued. “If it’s out of the realm of what makes sense, of what we’ve worked on together, we’ve built too much trust up to allow this to fall apart. So they can count on me to make sure I do everything to make sure this is done bipartisan.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have floated using the reconciliation, a process reserved for passing a Congressional budget each year, as a way to work around a potential Republican filibuster, which would increase the number of votes needed to pass an aid package in the Senate from a simple majority to 60.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has come under pressure from the White House to support President Joe Biden’s roughly $1.9 trillion aid package. Manchin has been critical of the proposal as written, saying that the aid is not targeted enough toward the Americans who need it most.
Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris appeared on a local West Virginia station and pitched Biden’s aid package directly to Manchin’s constituents without notifying the Democratic senator. Manchin, who was leading efforts with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to work out a bipartisan agreement, slammed the White House in an interview after Harris’ appearance.
“I saw it. I couldn’t believe it. No one called me,” Manchin said of Harris’ interview. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward. I think we need to. But we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together, what was done.”
Manchin reiterated his criticisms of Biden’s aid package.
“We met [Biden’s] economic team and they put out what they wanted. We said, ‘Just show us the figures.’ Because people need to know. We want to help everybody that needs help,” he said. “But if a person is making $250,000 or $300,000, I don’t think they’re in much as need as a person making $40,000 or $50,000. We’re going to target it.”