West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin took issue with Vice President Kamala Harris’ interview in his state amid a campaign to win his vote on President Joe Biden’s coronavirus rescue package, Politico reports.
Harris appeared in interviews with news stations in West Virginia and Arizona to pressure Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, two centrist Democrats that have expressed concerns about the size of Biden’s plan, to get on board.
“In West Virginia, one in seven families is describing their household as being hungry, one in six can’t pay their rent, and one in four small businesses are closing permanently or have already closed, so it’s a big issue in West Virginia and across the country,” Harris told WSAZ. “And that’s why the president and I are offering the American Rescue Plan.”
“[ARP is] about opening schools back up in a safe way, it’s about getting support for small businesses, getting relief for families. So many people have been unemployed for almost a year at this point,” she added. “The president and I feel very strongly that these are the moments when we are facing a crisis of unbelievable proportion [and] that the American people deserve their leaders to step up and stand up for them.”
“I saw [the interview], I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it],” Manchin told WSAZ a day later. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.”
Manchin was part of a group of bipartisan senators who pushed Biden to limit the stimulus checks in his proposal.
“We met [Pres. 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,” Manchin 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.”
Could Manchin derail covid relief?
With moderate Republicans pushing a proposal that would slash the $1.9 trillion plan to around $600 billion and reduce the $1,400 checks to $1,000 that would only go to those earning under $50,000 per year, Democrats are looking at using the budget reconciliation process, which the GOP used to ram through the 2017 tax cuts, to pass the bill with a simple majority.
But Manchin could stand in the way of that plan.
Along with his public comments, Manchin also “conveyed his displeasure privately to senior White House officials late last week,” according to Politico, which noted Manchin could “refuse to back the budget this week until there are more talks with Republicans, or insist that Biden and Democrats lower the price tag before doing so.”
“Manchin controls everything,” a senior Democratic aide told the outlet.