Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is poised to play a critical role in President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.
The influential Democratic centrist nearly derailed passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package when he pressed for a last-minute cut to federal unemployment benefits. It sent Democrats scrambling to secure his support for 12 hours — they eventually agreed to a reduction.
With Democrats essentially needing to pass major legislation via reconciliation — which requires all 50 members of the parties to vote in favor — Manchin remains the swing vote on infrastructure.
Manchin now holds major sway in ongoing bipartisan infrastructure negotiations. He’s pushing both parties to strike a deal over the objection of fellow Democrats and progressives who view the talks as alternately a waste of time or something that could produce a significantly watered-down bill.
On Tuesday, Manchin opened the door to a Democrat-only package. He’s largely held back from offering policy specifics, but here’s an overview of what Manchin seeks from a new economic spending bill:
On Tuesday, Manchin offered some of his clearest rationale yet behind why he wants to raise corporate taxes in an interview with NBC News:
“Republicans have drawn a line in the sand on not changing anything, and I thought the 2017 tax bill was a very unfair bill, and weighted to a side that basically did not benefit the average American. So I voted against it. I think there are some adjustments that need to be made.”
Manchin chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which The Hill first reported is slated to mark up a 423-page legislative draft aimed at strengthening the nation’s energy infrastructure on Thursday. It contains provisions to boost electric grid resiliency as well as the energy efficiency of housing and commercial buildings.
It remains unclear how much of Biden’s education, healthcare, and childcare initiatives Manchin will ultimately embrace. His office declined to comment earlier this month on whether the West Virginia senator supported the permanent expansion of the child tax credit.
But the Democrats’ pivotal swing vote looks like he may be ready to make a deal.