President Joe Biden is pushing for another massive coronavirus relief package to pass through Congress, and he even suggested that Democrats should get it passed with or without Republican support.
“I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it,” Biden told reporters on Friday. as the Washington Examiner reported.
However, the president then went on to stress that the legislation needs to pass, “No ifs, ands, or buts.”
As noted by the Examiner, these remarks signaled a green light from the president to use reconciliation, a process by which budgetary items can pass the Senate via a simple majority vote.
Manchin has reservations
However, even going the reconciliation route may pose challenges. Following the election of Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia earlier this month, Democrats and Republicans each hold 50 seats in the Senate, with the tie-breaking vote in the hands of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Still, this scenario assumes that all 50 Democratic senators will vote in lockstep, and judging from recent comments made by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), there’s no guarantee that will happen.
On Friday, Manchin told local West Virginia television station WSAZ, “We want to help everybody that needs help. But if a person is making $250,000 or $300,000 [per year], 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.”
The coronavirus package has a massive $1.9 trillion price tag and would give $1,400 checks to essentially every American, regardless of income.
Pressure from Harris
Manchin also took issue with comments that Harris made during a Zoom interview with WSAZ last week pushing for passage of the relief package.
“I saw it. I couldn’t believe it. No one called me,” he said, according to the outlet. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan way forward. I think we need to, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together, what was done.”
In addition to talking about the COVID-19 relief bill, Harris also made comments about energy workers who have been hit hard by her administration’s new policies.
Harris reportedly said that unemployed coal miners could be put to work “dealing with reclaiming abandoned land mines, what we need to do around plugging leaks from oil and gas wells, and transferring those important skills to the work that has yet to be done, that needs to get done.”