Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) removes his mask to speak as bipartisan members of the Senate and House meet to announce a framework for fresh coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief legislation at a conference of press on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 1. 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said he would consider passing legislation via a party line vote again, but only in a situation where Democrats have tried to involve Republicans.
Manchin’s comments come as the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers look to other top priorities, including voting rights legislation, after passing a $ 1.9 trillion Covid aid bill without any support. Republican in the Senate split evenly this weekend.
The massive stimulus package survived the Senate thanks to a process known as reconciliation, which allows the house to pass a bill with a simple majority if it impacts the federal budget. Typically, a bill needs 60 votes before it goes to the Senate floor under a rule called obstructionism.
The filibuster will make it harder for the voting rights legislation, passed by the House last week, to win approval from the Senate. Democrats would need the support of 10 Republicans in a regular process.
When asked if he would support the use of reconciliation, Manchin said only if the regular process requiring 60 votes fails.
“I’m not going to change my mind about filibuster,” Manchin told NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “I’ll change my mind if we have to come to a reconciliation where we have to do something, once I know they have the process.”
“But I’m not going there until my Republican friends have the ability to voice their opinion as well,” he said. “And I hope they get involved to the point where we have 10 of them working with 50 of us.”
Democrats have raised the possibility of creating a process like reconciliation, but it would apply to certain key issues like voting rights as opposed to the budget.
Manchin played a pivotal, albeit sometimes uncertain, role in passing Covid’s latest aid bill. Democrats couldn’t afford to lose a single vote and had to make concessions to keep him on board.
Manchin defended the changes, which include an additional $ 300 per week in unemployment benefits instead of the $ 400 per week proposed by the House of Representatives. However, those benefits will run through September 6 instead of August 29, and beneficiaries will not have to pay taxes on the first $ 10,200.
“Basically, what would have happened, going from $ 300 to $ 400, there will be a technical problem with people going without unemployment checks for a while,” Manchin said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” The $ 300 per week is systematic and will keep the transition smooth, Manchin said.
Manchin also defended the exclusion of a plan to increase the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, up from $ 7.25. He was one of eight Democratic senators who voted against an amendment tabled by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Calling for that change.
“There is not one senator in 100 who does not want to raise the minimum wage,” Manchin said. “$ 7.25 is sinfully low. We must raise it.”
Instead, Manchin wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 11 an hour and the rate that pays for the inflation rate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said President Joe Biden will continue to push for a federal minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.
Manchin said he is optimistic that Washington leaders can work together to compromise and bring about change.
“We will resolve this and move forward, as it should be,” he said.