Will Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin Kill $2,000 Checks? Not So Fast
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has not committed to voting down a stimulus bill that includes additional $1,400 relief checks, but the moderate Senator still doesn’t believe it should be the top priority for Democrats when they take control of the Senate, and his reluctance could still shape the final bill that passes Congress.
The Washington Post published a story Friday reporting Manchin would “absolutely not” vote for another round of stimulus checks. But in a statement to Forbes, Manchin’s communications director Sam Runyon did not explicitly say the Senator would vote against a stimulus package with $1,400 checks—but instead said that the Senator will “evaluate” proposals from the Biden Administration “when the time comes.” It’s not a ringing endorsement—Manchin told the Washington Post in a follow-up interview he could potentially support more checks if they were narrow in scope and targeted to people who really needed them—but it doesn’t outright kill Biden’s plan to send Americans $2,000, including the $600 approved by Congress last month, as quickly as possible. Still, Manchin will likely have outsize impact on negotiations because Democrats can’t afford to lose his vote, since the Senate will be split 50-50 after Biden takes office, with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tie-breaker.
“Senator Manchin has made it clear that the number one priority must be distributing and administering the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible,” Runyon said. “ . . . He has also made clear that the focus when delivering economic relief must be on those who are unemployed through no fault of their own.”
Biden and Democratic congressional leaders have spent the last month promising $2,000 stimulus payments if they picked up Georgia’s Senate seats this week. And although President Donald Trump and a few Republican Senators like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) were open to $2,000 checks last month, it’s unclear if they will support Biden’s proposal. Axios reported Biden’s first relief plan will include aid to state and local governments and funding for vaccine distribution, as well as $1,400 checks.