Vice President Kamala Harris is trying to secure the passage of the White House’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief package named the “American Rescue Plan,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Part of that effort involves getting support from moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ). But judging by recent comments from Manchin, he isn’t impressed with Harris’ tactics.
Harris told West Virginia television station WSAZ, “The president and I feel very strongly that these are the moments, when we are facing a crisis of unbelievable proportion, that the American people deserve their leaders to step up and stand up for them.”
She had a similar message for the Arizona Republic, saying, “If we don’t pass this bill…we know more people are going to die in our country.”
Although White House aides told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that Harris’ message to the West Virginia station “was not intended to influence Manchin,” it wasn’t well-received by the senator.
Manchin told WSAZ on Friday that he was blindsided by Harris’ remarks, saying, “I saw [the interview], I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it].”
“We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward,” Manchin continued, “but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.
“We met [Pres. Biden’s] economic team and they put out what they wanted,” the senator recalled. “We said, ‘Just show us the figures.'”
Manchin wants targeted relief
Manchin then expressed some of his concerns over certain details in the legislation, stressing that although he wants “to help everybody that needs help,” there should be some conditions.
The proposed legislation would give $1,400 checks to essentially every American, regardless of income.
“If a person is making $250,000 or $300,000, I don’t think they’re in much as need as a person making $40,000 or $50,000,” he explained. “We’re going to target it.”
The election of Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia earlier this month left the Senate evenly split between Republicans and Democrats with Harris as the tie-breaking vote. This is expected to leave the fate of important legislation in the hands of relative moderates like Manchin and Sinema — and when it comes to bucking the Biden–Harris White House, it seems they’re just getting started.