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All eyes on Manchin after COVID-19 aid passes Senate

All eyes on Manchin after COVID-19 aid passes Senate
© Greg Nash

The day after the Senate passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package along party lines, all eyes turned to Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinNixed Interior nominee appointed to different department role  Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Democrats face mounting hurdles to agenda MORE (D-W.Va.), a key moderate vote in the evenly split chamber's Democratic majority who doesn’t seem to relish the role.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” the West Virginia senator denied taking pleasure in his capacity to make or break Democratic agenda items in a chamber that gives his party the majority but is split 50-50.

“I didn’t lobby for this position. I’ve never changed, Martha. I’m the same person I have been all my life and since I’ve been in the public offices. I’m the same. I’ve been voting the same way for the last 10 years,” Manchin told ABC’s Martha Raddatz.

Manchin made the rounds on multiple Sunday talk shows and addressed his firm stance on not eliminating the filibuster, adding that using it should be “more painful.”

“I'm not going to change my mind on the filibuster. I will change my mind if we need to go to a reconciliation to where we have to get something done once I know they have process into it,” Manchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“But I'm not going to go there until my Republican friends have the ability to have their say also," he added. "And I'm hoping they'll get involved to the point to where we have 10 of them that'll work with 50 of us or 15 of them that'll work with 45 of us.”

When it came to the COVID-19 relief bill, Manchin had previously stalled on a vote that would ensure enhanced unemployment benefits were part of the stimulus package.

The Senate ultimately agreed to a lower augmented unemployment benefit of $300 per week, down from the proposed $400 per week.

The bill passed without the Biden administration’s proposed minimum wage hike of $15 per hour after the Senate parliamentarian nixed it, saying it would run afoul of budget rules.

Manchin suggested that the Senate would eventually reach an agreement on a minimum wage increase despite the defeat.

"There’s not one senator out of 100 that does not want to raise the minimum wage, not one," Manchin told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperArkansas governor says 'divisive' Trump attacks on GOP officials are 'unhelpful' Arkansas governor: Veto on trans youth bill was a 'message of compassion and conservatism' Buttigieg: Lawmakers can call infrastructure package 'whatever they like' but 'it's good policy' MORE. He defended his support for an increase to $11, which he said would allow all full-time workers to live above the poverty line. "Once it gets above $11, it should be indexed so it never becomes a political football again."

White House communications director Kate BedingfieldKate BedingfieldWhite House says Biden 'first to say' gun executive actions are 'not enough' Manchin throws cold water on using budget reconciliation 'SNL' mocks Biden trip on Air Force One stairs MORE, meanwhile, suggested the White House shares Manchin’s position on not ending the filibuster. Bedingfield told Tapper it is “still [President BidenJoe BidenTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Biden, first lady send 'warmest greetings' to Muslims for Ramadan The business case for child care reform MORE’s] position” that the institution should be preserved.

"He wants to work with Republicans, to work with independents,” Bedingfield said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “He believes that, you know, we are stronger when we build a broad coalition of support."

Asked how the administration would enact its agenda without a filibuster-proof majority, Bedingfield suggested the White House would draw on broad public support for initiatives such as increasing the minimum wage to $15.

“We also got [the relief package] done with the support of 75 percent of the American people, including over 50 percent of Republicans," she said. "We were able to pass this legislation with massive bipartisan support across the country."