Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, may have just tanked his party's designs to award people with $2,000 stimulus checks in the next round of coronavirus relief.
“Absolutely not. No,” Manchin told the Washington Post in an interview on Friday. “How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check.”
Manchin acknowledged that his position puts him at odds with Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, who has vowed to move swiftly to pass the $2,000 check proposal into law when he assumes the title of majority leader.
“You know, we have a difference of opinion,” he conceded. “That’s the beauty of our whole caucus. We have a difference of opinion on that.”
Manchin, who is widely expected to serve as the swing vote in an evenly divided Senate, may have stymied the proposal with his announcement.
Although Democrats won control of both chambers of Congress in addition to the presidency, their ambitious legislative agenda faces challenges without large majorities in either chamber. In the House, although Democrats maintained control, the party lost so many seats that Speaker Nancy Pelosi allowed the setting up of a quarantined section of the chamber viewing gallery to allow infected members to vote in her successful bid to be reelected to the House's top leadership position.
On the Senate side, the Democrats' twin victories in the Georgia runoff races on Tuesday are still tempered by the chamber's impending 50-50 composition, with two independent senators caucusing with the Democrats and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote. A single defection from the Democratic side would allow Republicans to thwart any policy proposals.
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