Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) takes off his mask to speak as non-partisan Senate and House members gather to set up a framework for counteracting legislation at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington December 1 to announce fresh coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Senator Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said he would consider re-passing the legislation through a party line vote, but only in a situation where Democrats have been trying to get Republicans engaged.
Manchin’s comments come as the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers consider other top priorities, including voting rights, after they passed a $ 1.9 trillion Covid relief bill with no Republican support this weekend in the evenly-divided Senate have passed.
The Senate managed to survive the massive stimulus package thanks to a process known as reconciliation that allows the Chamber to pass a bill by a simple majority if it affects the federal budget. Typically, a bill takes 60 votes before it moves to the Senate under a rule known as a filibuster.
The filibuster will make it difficult to get Senate approval for the voting bill passed by parliament last week. Democrats would need the support of 10 Republicans in the regular process.
When asked if he would support reconciliation, Manchin only said if the regular process, which requires 60 votes, fails.
“I’m not going to change my mind about the filibuster,” Manchin told NBC’s Meet The Press. “I’ll change my mind if we have to go to a reconciliation where we have to get something done as soon as I know they have a process.”
“But I won’t go there until my Republican friends have a chance to have their say,” he said. “And I hope they get involved to the point where we have 10 of them who will work with 50 of us.”
Democrats have raised the possibility of creating a process like reconciliation, but that would apply to certain key issues like voting rights as opposed to budget.
Manchin played an important but sometimes uncertain role in passing the latest Covid Relief Act. Democrats couldn’t afford to lose a single vote and had to make concessions to keep him on board.
Manchin defended the changes that include an additional $ 300 per week in unemployment benefits instead of the $ 400 per week proposed by the House of Representatives. However, these benefits will run through September 6, not August 29, and recipients will not be required to pay tax on the first $ 10,200.
“Basically, if it goes up from $ 300 to $ 400, there will be a glitch with people who can get by without unemployment control for a while,” Manchin said in an interview with ABC’s This Week. The $ 300 a week is systematic and will ensure a smooth transition, Manchin said.
Manchin also defended the exclusion of a plan to raise the federal minimum wage from $ 7.25 to $ 15 an hour. He was one of eight Democratic Senators who voted against an amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Calling for that change.
“There is no senator in 100 who does not want to raise the minimum wage,” said Manchin. “$ 7.25 is wickedly low. We need to raise it.”
Instead, Manchin wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 11 an hour and index that wage rate for inflation.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden will continue to push for a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.
Manchin said he was optimistic that Washington leaders can work together to compromise and bring about change.
“We’re going to sort this out and move on as it should,” he said.