Coronavirus relief legislation should be a bipartisan effort not just passed by Democrats alone, Sen. Joe Manchin insisted Wednesday after agreeing Tuesday for a budget reconciliation measure to lay the groundwork for President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan.
"I want it to be bipartisan," the West Virginia Democrat said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "If they think we're going to throw all caution to the wind and just shove it down people's throats, that's not going to happen."
The "worst thing," though, would be to put a price tag on the relief rather than target the money only to where it is needed, said Manchin.
"If it's $1.9 trillion, so be it," he said. "If it is a little smaller than that and we find a targeted need, that's what we're going to do … [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer said yesterday on the floor this is going to be a bipartisan process. That means Democrats and Republicans will have amendments. We have many, many opportunities to make the necessary changes."
However, Manchin insisted that Biden's call for a $15 an hour minimum wage as part of the bill doesn't fall within the reconciliation constraints. He also said $15 an hour is too much, as $11 an hour would fall within poverty lines.
Manchin added that he does think Republicans are willing to work on a compromise on the coronavirus bill, but he does "strongly disagree" that Democrats should push the bill through, even if he does support passing the bill.
"We should try everything bipartisan," he said, adding that there are some measures in Biden's proposed bill that can be taken out to reach an agreement. In particular, the minimum wage hike, Manchin says, does not fit into the package because of the confines of the budget if the measure comes under reconciliation.
He added that relief payments must be targeted.
"The reason the Democrats and Republicans got upset before, we found out that people making $200,000 and $300,000 were getting checks," said Manchin. "Some states need help. Some states don't. Let's target and find a metric where it works … spend the excess money on infrastructure. I don't have cell service and broadband in most places in rural areas of West Virginia. That would be tremendous for us."
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