Manchin insists he won't vote 'down the line' on COVID relief unless bill 'makes sense'
Democrat says White House 'made a mistake' by pressuring him to support Biden COVID relief plan on 'Special Report'
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., defended his vote to advance a Democratic budget resolution Tuesday that would lay the groundwork for President Biden’s $1.9T COVID relief package in the Senate, but maintained that he would not support the final legislation unless Congress could make it "work in a bipartisan way."
Manchin, a moderate with a reputation for working across party lines, is believed to be the key vote who could advance or block his colleagues' attempts to pass the Biden proposal via budget reconciliation. With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats have little margin for error.
"What I have told everybody, I made it very clear, from the President of the United States to all of my colleagues, we're gonna make this work in a bipartisan way," Manchin told "Special Report" host Bret Baier.
"My friends on the other side are going to have input, and we are going to do something we agree on," the senator added.
"My friends on the other side are going to have input, and we are going to do something we agree on."— Sen. Joe Manchin, 'Special Report'
Although Manchin's vote is critical for Biden's proposal to pass without support from Republicans, the West Virginia senator told Baier that he is "not going to do ... just a party-line vote.
" It has to make sense," he explained, "and if it's out of the realm of what makes sense, of what we’ve worked on together, we've built too much trust up to allow this to fall apart. So they can count on me to make sure I do everything to make sure this is done bipartisan."
Manchin has come under immense pressure in recent weeks-- most recently from Vice President Kamala Harris, who was criticized over the weekend for appearing to pressure Manchin and fellow moderate Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona into supporting the administration's bill in a pair of interviews she did with local TV stations.
Harris "made a mistake, and It shouldn't have been done," Manchin said. "A mistake was made. We're going to make mistakes ... to err is human. With that being said, I have spoken to the president about that and I have spoken to some of his top officials."
Manchin believes Democrats won't get enough votes to pass the stimulus package "down the line" without Republican support. As for his vote earlier Tuesday, Manchin said he told his colleagues, " fine, we'll start this process, but I want you to know, I will vote in a bipartisan way."
The senator also told Baier that he believed it was unlikely that proposals like a $15 national minimum wage would be in the final legislation.
"I don't think that's going to make it in ... [because the] only thing we can do during during this reconciliation is anything that comes within the financial realms of what we're dealing with," he explained. "It's called a budget. Reconciliation has to be within the budget lines. That does not come within that at all, and it really needs to be debated ... Some states already have [a] $15 [minimum wage]. I think anybody that goes to work in the morning and works 40 hours a week and works 50 weeks a year, that's 2,000 hours, should be ... above the poverty guidelines. And that's not $15.
Manchin later expressed continued opposition to the effort among Senate Democrats to remove the filibuster, telling Baier that he believes there are several others within his party "who feel exactly like I do" on the issue.