Vice President Kamala Harris made a faux-pas that has angered an important ally in the Senate.
The vice president upset Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WW), seen as a pivotal vote, with an unannounced TV interview in his state of West Virginia to lobby for President Joe Biden’s massive coronavirus relief bill, The Hill reported.
Harris angers Manchin
A red-state Democrat with moderate views, Manchin has been described as a swing vote in a narrowly divided Senate. Democrats just barely control the chamber, counting Harris as a tie-breaker.
Harris described a dire economic situation in Manchin’s state in a surprise interview last week with NBC affiliate WSAZ, in a clear effort to pressure Manchin to back Biden’s bill.
“To your point, in West Virginia, 1 in 7 families is describing their household as being hungry, 1 in 6 can’t pay their rent, and 1 in 4 small businesses are closing permanently or have already closed, so it’s a big issue in West Virginia and across the country,” she said.
Later, Manchin made clear to WSAZ that he wasn’t thrilled with Harris getting up on a soapbox without warning in his state.
“I saw [the interview]. I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it],” Manchin said. “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.”
White House tries to mollify Manchin
The White House sought to mollify Manchin, with Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki calling him a “key partner” on Monday.
“We’ve been in touch with Sen. Manchin as we have been for many weeks and will continue to be moving forward,” Psaki said, according to Fox News. “Not only is he a key partner to the president and to the White House on this package, but on his agenda.”
Despite Manchin’s — and Biden’s — stated desire for bipartisanship, Democrats are considering passing the bill without any support from Republicans through budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority.