Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN on Thursday that the US “is not a center-left country.”
The West Virginia Democrat hasn’t fully gotten behind Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill.
Manchin also bemoaned that he goes to work “in a hostile working environment every day.”
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Thursday said the US is “not a center-left country” in justifying not yet getting behind the framework for President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending package. In an interview with CNN’s “New Day,” he also bemoaned working in “a hostile work environment.”
Manchin has played a major role in putting the kibosh on the inclusion of tuition-free community college, a fee on methane emissions to crack down on climate change, and comprehensive paid family leave in the massive social spending package, rankling many of his colleagues. The US is the only developed nation in the world without guaranteed paid parental and family leave.
“We have to work together, we can’t go too far left. This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center, if anything, a center-right country, that’s being shown, and we ought to be able to recognize that,” Manchin told “New Day” anchor John Berman on Thursday.
“And all my friends on the left are progressives, or liberals, or whatever. I’ve said I’m not. I always say that I’m a responsible West Virginia Democrat. I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate, and I think most people in the middle feel that way. And I empathize with the people on the far-left and the far-right, that’s aspirational,” Manchin added.
Manchin, known for his close working partnerships and friendships with senators on the other side of the aisle, also lamented the partisanship in the Senate and cast himself as the victim of the atmosphere in the Congress.
“You wanna know what’s wrong with the place? I go to work in a hostile working environment every day,” he said.
“If you’re a Democrat and a Republican’s up for election, you’re supposed to be against that person. If Donald Duck’s running against that person, you’re supposed to give money from your PAC to help the other person beat the person they’ve been working with,” Manchin added. “And even sometimes they’ll say, ‘Can you campaign against so-and-so?’ And then we come back on Monday, and here’s the person we’ve given money against, and here’s a person we’re supposed to go out and work against saying, ‘Hey, can you sign onto this amendment for me?'”
Democrats are facing increased urgency to pass both components of Biden’s economic agenda after the party’s devastating trio of election losses in Virginia – but Manchin still holds most of the cards in the Senate.
“I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact it will have on our national debt, our economy, and the American people,” Manchin told reporters in a news conference on Monday, calling for an end to “political games.”
In the coming days, the US House may vote on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the US Senate in August, and the $1.75 trillion economic and social spending plan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that she’d added four weeks of paid leave into the House’s version of the $1.75 trillion package, which Manchin said would be “a challenge” to support.
The West Virginia senator, who is concerned about a paid family leave program not being properly funded, told Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig that he wants paid leave to be funded with a new payroll tax on employers and workers.
In addition to the open questions about paid leave, Manchin also wants the entire package to be evaluated and given a score for its impact on the deficit by the Congressional Budget Office before voting on it, a process that could take days or weeks.
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