Senate

Manchin says Biden has not pressured him to support elections, spending bills

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said President Biden has not pressured him to support the sweeping voting rights bill he publicly opposed earlier this week, or a Democrat-only spending bill, despite the Senate’s 50-50 split.

“The president respects the institution so much because he was here and knows it better than everyone else. He does not get involved,” Manchin told Politico in an interview Tuesday.

“I already know where he is. I know the challenges he has, and I know basically the pressure he’s receiving all the time. We’re just trying to find a balance for it,” he added.

Manchin on Sunday announced that he will vote against a sweeping bill to overhaul elections, dubbed the For the People Act, putting the fate of the legislation in question.

He also signaled that he is firmly opposed to weakening or eliminating the filibuster, which a number of Democrats think would be necessary to pass some of Biden’s key legislative proposals, including election reform.

On infrastructure negotiation, Manchin last week said he was not yet ready for Democrats to ditch negotiations with Republicans to try and pass a bill alone, even as an increasing number of his colleagues become frustrated with the talks.

“We need to do something in a bipartisan way. … We’re not going to get everything but we can move forward,” Manchin told CNN. “These take time. I know everyone is in a hurry right now. … We’ve got to work together and that takes a lot of time and energy and patience.”

Biden on Tuesday ended infrastructure talks with a GOP group led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and will now move forward on discussions with a bipartisan group of senators, including Manchin.

Manchin, one of the most conservative members of the Senate Democratic caucus, has emerged as a key vote for Democrats to pass some of Biden’s key policy initiatives. Because the Senate is evenly split with Vice President Harris casting a tie-breaking vote, Biden effectively needs every Democrat on board to pass his proposals.

Biden called out the moderate senator and his colleague Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) without naming them last week, in part blaming the lawmakers for his inability to pass key legislative proposals.

“I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done? Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends,” Biden said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, however, pushed back on claims that Biden was taking a jab at the two lawmakers, telling reporters that he was conveying that “his threshold, his litmus test, is not to see eye-to-eye on every single detail of every issue. And he doesn’t with Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin.”

The White House on Tuesday downplayed rumors of a personal rift between Biden and Manchin, saying the president “considers Sen. Manchin a friend.”

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Shelley Moore Capito

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