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Joe Manchin Says His ‘Better Judgment’ Over Biden Was a ‘Bipartisan’ COVID Bill but President ‘Wants to Show Strength’



U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, says he knows President Joe Biden is “trying to bring everybody together” but he disagreed with the new leader of the free world who worked hard and acted fast to get relief to Americans struggling after a year in a pandemic that had already stolen 400,000 lives the day he was sworn into the Oval Office.

Manchin, ranked by GovTrack as number 54 on a list of Senators where 100 is the most liberal (Lisa Murkowski is ranked more liberal, at number 55,) had a lot to say about former President Donald Trump as well.

“I got along well with Donald Trump. We had a good rapport. He called me all the time. We talked back and forth,” the West Virginia Democrat told USA Today. But he says he wasn’t aware of Trump’s hold on the GOP.

“I didn’t know there was that type of fever and pent-up hatred in people he allowed them to unleash.”

Manchin is outright blocking President Biden’s agenda in the name of “bipartisanship” by refusing to support its critical elements, including HR1 , the voting rights protection bill, along with Biden’s ambitious infrastructure bill, the LGBTQ Equality Act, D.C. statehood, killing or at least weakening the filibuster – and using the budget reconciliation process to move bills forward.

“There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin wrote one month ago. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”

Instead, Manchin wants to be known as the bipartisan guy, regardless of whether or not Biden’s agenda is accomplished.

“I talk to everybody. I have dinner with everybody. If I can find a pathway forward, we’re going to find it. You can’t find it unless you know people and unless you truly want to be a friend and want to work in an honest way, not a gotcha moment.”

Manchin, for example, admits infrastructure is important and decades overdue. To his thinking that just means there’s no need to rush.

“Now we’re in a situation we don’t have that urgency (unlike COVID-19 relief), that time sensitivity, that ‘We gotta do this. We gotta do infrastructure.’ Infrastructure should have been done 10, 20 years ago. It’s not like a do-or-die right now. We can fix it, we should fix it, but it should be based on infrastructure,” he told USA Today.

Experts say that every day that goes by makes the actual price tag higher, with even more damage done to critical infrastructure like roads and bridges, and the increased costs due to inflation. There’s also “soft” infrastructure, like broadband, which is critical to learning and communications.

Meanwhile, with Manchin being the last Democratic holdout on much of the Biden agenda, blocking both key aspects – the legislation – and the road to pass those bills – killing the filibuster – he’s getting a lot of attention on social media.

Image by Third Way via Flickr and a CC license

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