Senate

Manchin says Democrats ‘can’t go too far left’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in a Thursday morning appearance on CNN’s “New Day” defended his arguments over the social spending and climate package stuck in Congress, arguing that Democrats and President Biden will be hurt if the party moves too far to the left.

“I believe in President Biden. I still do and I will always, because he’s a good person; he’s here for the right reason. He really is in government for the right reason. We just have to work together. We can’t go too far left,” Manchin said.

“This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center — if anything, a little center-right country, and this means that’s being shown. And we ought to be able to recognize that,” he added.

Manchin was responding to a question about remarks from Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who said that Biden was elected to “be normal and stop the chaos” and not to be another FDR — a reference to President Roosevelt and the New Deal policies of the 1930s.

The senator said he believes Biden is a moderate, adding that members of the Democratic Party are “pushing him left” but “that’s not Joe Biden.”

Manchin labeled himself a “responsible West Virginia Democrat,” adding that he is “fiscally responsible and socially compassionate.”

He urged members of his party to “come together” and “realize what can and can’t be done,” before urging them not to “force, basically, something that’s not going to happen to make people believe it will.”

Manchin’s comments come as pressure is mounting on Congress to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and social spending package after Democrats experienced a trio of losses in Virginia on Tuesday, falling short in the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general races.

Some have attributed the Republican victories in the Old Dominion to the internal disagreements within the Democratic Party, which have delayed negotiations for the two packages for weeks.

The West Virginia Democrat has played a key role in those negotiations, along with his moderate colleague Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Manchin has expressed concerns about the $1.75 trillion social spending package, urging his colleagues in the House to hold off on those deliberations to first pass the Senate-approved bipartisan infrastructure package.

Progressives, however, are demanding that the two bills are passed alongside one another, and are threatening to tank the infrastructure package if it is brought up alone.

Manchin defended his concerns with the social spending package Thursday morning, doubling down on his opposition to including paid family leave and Medicare expansion in the bill.

Democratic leadership had hoped to hold votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the framework for the spending package as early as this week, though with negotiations still ongoing, that timeline looks unlikely.

Manchin on Thursday said he has not spoken to Biden since before the president left for his trip to Europe last week, but he said he expects to continue talks with him soon.

“We’ll be speaking, I’m sure, again,” Manchin said.

–Updated at 9:31 a.m.

Tags Abigail Spanberger bipartisan infrastructure bill budget reconciliation bill Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema social spending bill

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