West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin defended his opposition to President Joe Biden‘s Build Back Better bill, stating in a Sunday television interview that the progressive $1.75 trillion spending package ‘no longer will exist’ in its current form.
The key centrist insisted he has his constituents interests’ in mind, as criticism from fellow Democrats continues to pour in over his role in stalling key parts of Biden’s agenda.
‘I’m not a Washington Democrat, I’m a good old West Virginia Democrat,’ Manchin said on State of the Union. ‘Never forget where you came from, never forget your purpose for being here. I’m an American before I’m anything.’
They also endorsed each others’ re-election bids, as calls to find a primary challenger for both of their seats swell from the extreme wings of their parties.
Manchin has been grappling with numerous protests over his opposition to Biden’s voting rights reform push and BBB, that recently escalated to fellow elected Democrats threatening to endorse a left-wing primary challenge in West Virginia. In Alaska, Murkowski is facing a Donald Trump-endorsed Republican opponent. She’s one of seven Republican senators to vote for Trump’s conviction following his second impeachment trial.
But Manchin insisted he and Murkowski weren’t feeling the heat, and suggested that neither Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer nor Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell would support primary challenges against them.
Manchin and Murkowski appeared on CNN this Sunday for a lengthy joint interview where they stressed the need for bipartisanship
‘No way shape or form, will Mitch McConnell or Chuck Schumer not support their caucus. It’s just not going to be happen,’ Manchin said, adding: ‘I don’t put any stock in that.’
In a separate CNN interview last week Schumer would not say whether or not he would back a primary challenge against Manchin in 2024, insisting he was more focused on the upcoming midterms.
Manchin said he’d support Murkowski’s re-election bid, adding: ‘It’s hypocritical to basically work with a person day-in, day-out, and then when they’re in cycle, you’re supposed to be against them because they have an R or a D by their name.’
‘If these are good people I’ve worked with, had accomplished a lot, why in the world wouldn’t I want to work with them and continue to work with them?’
‘There used to be a time when we did that,’ Murkowski lamented. Alaska’s primary election will be held in August.
Meanwhile Manchin angered members of his own party when he announced he couldn’t support BBB late last year after months of high-level negotiations with the White House. With a 50-50 split in the Senate and uniform Republican opposition, Democrats needed every member of their caucus to vote in favor of the legislation for it to pass.
Despite Democrat leaders insisting it will still pass, Manchin delivered another death blow to Biden’s agenda last week when he told reporters BBB was ‘dead.’
Manchin also reiterated that Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan is dead in the water, at least in its current form
He told CNN on Sunday that he took issue with the lack of traditional procedure in the bill’s handling.
‘My biggest concern and my biggest opposition is it did not go through the process,’ Manchin said. ‘It should have gone through the committee.’
One of Biden’s biggest accomplishments in office so far, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, also notably bypassed committee and went straight to the Senate floor.
Manchin and Murkowski were among the core group of lawmakers deeply involved in getting that bill passed.
During the interview Murkowski attributed the package’s success to ‘a commitment to getting to yes.’
‘There was a good faith effort to work through the hard things,’ Murkowski said.
‘I think there was recognition that the country needed something. The country needed a step towards healing.’
The two lawmaker pledged those bipartisan efforts would continue in trying to reform the Electoral Count Act.
Manchin blamed ‘ambiguity’ in the 1887 law outlining how electoral votes following a presidential race are counted for fueling the January 6 Capitol riot.
‘What really caused the insurrection, they felt there was a — kind of an ambiguity, if you will, and there was an avenue they could go through and maybe overturn the election. Because there was — it was not clear,’ Manchin said.
‘And when one congressman, one senator can bring a state’s authentic count to a halt, it’s wrong.’
He added that there was a group of 15 to 20 legislators who ‘want to be part of’ fixing election laws.
Asked if there was more in the way of voting reform that can be done, Murkowski said that was what the group was currently ‘exploring.’
‘I know for one, we want to make sure that if you’re going to be an election worker, you’re gonna be there at the polling booth, you don’t feel intimidated or threatened or harassed,’ Murkowski said.