Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., may very well be the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate, given the upper chamber’s current 50-50 split.
Seen as a key swing vote, the moderate Democrat appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report” on Tuesday and insisted that the pending COVID-19 relief package will be a “bipartisan effort,” though skeptics warn not to get your hopes up because Manchin will ultimately cave.
President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are pushing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and while Manchin voted to move forward with a budget resolution, he has some problems with the measure.
Referencing Monday night’s meeting between Biden and 10 moderate Republican senators, Manchin said, “That showed a tremendous gesture of goodwill, and now we have just got to find a bipartisan way through.”
(Source: Fox News)
Host Brett Baier noted that there was a big difference between the Democrats’ plan and a $600 billion GOP plan, and asked Manchin if he supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is part of his party’s bill.
“I don’t think that’s going to make it in,” Manchin replied, explaining that it doesn’t fit within the financial realms of budget reconciliation.
“And it really needs to be debated,” he added. “It doesn’t work — and different states are different. Some states already have $15.”
The Democrat plan also includes a $350 billion bailout for states, and Manchin was asked if he supported that.
“Well, we have to look at that. I think that’s way high — from everything I have seen, that’s extremely high,” he said.
As for voting for the $1.9 trillion dollar plan, while Manchin stopped short of a flat out ‘no,’ he suggested that he would not be on board.
“What I have told everybody — and I made it very clear, from the president of the United States to all of my colleagues — we’re going to make this work in a bipartisan way,” he said. “My friends on the other side are going to have input and we’re going to do something that we agree on.”
“I’m not going to do it just down the lines of just saying party line vote, it has to make sense,” Manchin continued. “And if it’s out of the realm that makes sense and what we’ve worked on together — we’ve built too much trust up among each other to allow this to fall apart. So, they can count on me to make sure that we do everything to make this bipartisan.”
Baier replied, “So, that sounds like a no if they try to blow it down the line.”
“We’re not going to blow it down the line. They can’t do it down the line,” Manchin insisted, adding that he will support starting the process of moving forward.
“But I want you to know, I will vote in a bipartisan way,” the senator said he told his party.
Manchin was also adamant that he would not vote to break up the filibuster, the 60-vote threshold for legislation.
At the end of the interview, Baier asked Manchin, “Are you the most powerful person in Washington?”
“Let me tell you something. I’ve seen people who thought they had power and abused it,” he replied. “I’ve seen the people that desired power and abused it. I’ve seen people that had an opportunity to be in a situation where you could make a difference, and I hope I’m that person to make a difference to bring our country together and start healing.”
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