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Manchin defends position as party’s swing senator

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Sunday defended his position as his party’s swing senator, contending that he has not “voted any differently than I voted for 10 years.”

“I’ve always been very moderate, very centrist. I tell people, I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. And I want to find that middle. And I think there’s always a middle to find,” Manchin, who has frustrated members of his party with his opposition to ending the filibuster, told host Jon Karl on ABC’s “This Week.”

Manchin, one of the Democratic caucus’s most conservative members, has emerged as a key swing vote in the 50-50 split Senate. Democrats will need his support to pass some of President Biden’s key legislative initiatives, including infrastructure, a social spending bill and sweeping voting rights legislation. 

Even with Manchin’s support, they may be unable to pass the latter two bills without getting rid of the filibuster.

Karl asked Manchin during the interview why he has not drawn any “red lines” with Republicans on legislative proposals, as he has done a number of times with Democrats.

Karl said he is “the man with the leverage,” to which Manchin responded “I don’t wish this on anybody.”

He further defended his influence in the Senate and his voting behavior, saying “It’s the way I live my life.”

“It’s the way I’ve basically been in public life, and I’m not changing. I’m sorry that this 50/50 worked out and people were unhappy with it, but it is what it is. And if they think that I’m going to change and be something that I’m not, I won’t. And I’ve been very clear,” Manchin said.

He noted, however, that he is “willing to meet everybody halfway.”

Manchin also zeroed in on his intentions for a subsequent infrastructure package, which Democrats are now teasing after both parties and the White House agreed to a framework for a deal on Friday.

Manchin said he will not “throw caution to the wind” and support passing a $5 trillion or $6 trillion infrastructure package through reconciliation when he says the country can only afford as much as $2 trillion.

“I’m very, very openly, and I think we can find our priorities. We can help a lot of people and lift them up. But people have to get up and make an effort too. We all have to be fighting for the same greater country that we live in,” Manchin said.

“So I don’t know what they’re expecting, different than who I am and what I am. And they know me. I’ve been there for 10 years,” he added.

Tags Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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