Sen. Joe Manchin has taken aim at fellow Democrat Vice President Kamala Harris over the administration’s approach to pushing its Covid-19 relief plan.
The West Virginia moderate, a key swing vote in an evenly divided Senate, blasted Harris’ appearance on a local TV station after she spoke about how the proposed relief is a “big issue” to his constituents.
“I saw [the interview], I couldn’t believe it. No one called me,” Manchin said Friday to WSAZ, the West Virginia station where Harris gave an interview Thursday. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, I think we need to do. But we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.”
Harris appeared on WSAZ to speak about the massive relief package, saying: “To your point in West Virginia, one in seven families is describing their household as being hungry, one in six can’t pay their rent, and one in four small businesses are closing permanently or have already closed, so it’s a big issue in West Virginia and across the country.”
Manchin is part of a bipartisan group of senators that has pushed back against the administration’s relief plan, urging that the proposed $1,400 direct payments be targeted toward those in greater need.
“We met with his economic team and they put out what they wanted,” Manchin said in response to Harris. “We want to help everyone that needs help. But if a person’s making $250K or $300K, I don’t think they’re in much needs as a person making $40K or 50K. That’s all I said. We’re going to target.”
The Vice President’s office declined to comment on Manchin’s comments.
Manchin’s bipartisan group held a call Sunday with Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, Jeff Zients, Biden’s coronavirus coordinator, and Louisa Terrell, head of White House legislative affairs, telling the administration the relief plan provides too much money to wealthier Americans.
Manchin called for targeted relief checks on CNN’s “State of the Union” Jan 10.
“I am on board by helping people that need help, people that really can’t make it, people who don’t have a job, they can’t put food on their table. I am in total support of helping them,” Manchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Leading Democrats have signaled they will begin moving forward on a coronavirus package as soon as next week as part of a deal with Republicans or by employing the budget reconciliation process.
Eugene Daniels contributed to this report.
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