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Former Washington Journalist
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Conservative Democratic Sen Joe Manchin has become well-known for the legislative limits he’s imposed on his fellow Senate Democrats, based on their reliance on Manchin to maintain their tenuous, 50-seat majority.
That’s given Manchin outsized influence on the agendas for President Biden and Senate Democrats.
However, in a television interview Sunday, ABC News host Jon Karl turned the tables on Manchin, asking the West Virginian why he never uses that influence as a cudgel against Republicans to fall in line for more of the bipartisanship that Manchin regularly says is his goal.
“You get hammered all the time, you know, by fellow Democrats, especially progressives who say you are constantly drawing red lines for what you’ll support and creating limits on how far Democrats will be able to go now that you control the House, the Senate and the White House. What do you say to those who say, ‘Why don’t you draw some red lines with Republicans?’” Karl asked. “Why don’t you say, unless they come around and agree to the stuff you just talked about, bring up the corporate tax rate again, some of the other issues, maybe voting rights, some of the other issues that Republicans are blocking — why don’t you draw a red line and say, ‘Look, if you guys don’t move on this, I’m going to go and endorse doing away with the filibuster?’
“You are the man with the leverage,” Karl added.
“Well, and I don’t wish this on anybody. Jon, I’ve 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. I want to find that middle and I think there’s always a middle to find. It’s the way I live my life, it’s the way I’ve basically been in public life, and I’m not changing,” Manchin replied. “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. I’m willing to meet everybody halfway. If Republicans don’t want to make adjustments to a tax code, which I think is weighted and unfair, then I’m willing to go reconciliation. That’s how you’re able to do it.
“But if [other Senate Democrats] think in reconciliation I’m going to throw caution to the wind and go to $5 trillion or $6 trillion when we can only afford $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion or maybe $2 trillion and what we can pay for, then I can’t be there,” Manchin added, referring to a process known as “reconciliation,” in which Democrats can pass legislation on their own immune from a filibuster. ” … 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 and so appreciative we’re here. 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. They know who I am and how I vote,” Manchin said.
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