The White House seems to be trying to smooth things over with Senator Joe Manchin after the West Virginia Democrat appeared irritated with comments made by Vice President Kamala Harris on a local TV station in his state. Salon reports that his ire came after the Vice President “pushed both Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another centrist Democrat, to support the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan.”
Last Thursday, Harris gave interviews to local news outlets in West Virginia and Arizona, seemingly as a way of ramping up the pressure on the two lawmakers to back the proposal, which infuriated Manchin.
After Harris’ interview aired on WSAV-TV, Manchin spoke with the news outlet as well saying:
“I saw [the interview], I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it]. We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.”
Politico writes, “QUICK, someone tell us: What on earth was KAMALA HARRIS thinking? The vice president’s move to troll Sen. JOE MANCHIN in his own state last week is backfiring — at a critical moment for President JOE BIDEN’S agenda.”
Now the White House is clearly trying to smooth things over. When asked about it today during the White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki remarked:
We’ve been in touch with Senator Manchin as we have been for many weeks and will continue to be moving forward, and not only is he a key partner to the president and to the White House on this package but on his agenda. We will remain in close touch with him.
Dan Rather explains why this matters.
Even before Harris’ interview, senior Democrats on the Hill were privately a little worried about Manchin, noting that he has the power to stop Democratic leaders from jamming through the Covid package without Republicans. Two options at Manchin’s disposal: refuse to back the budget this week until there are more talks with Republicans, or insist that Biden and Democrats lower the price tag before doing so.
“Without Joe Manchin, there is no Democratic Senate majority. There is no trifecta,” @sahilkapur says.
“So the reality is Democrats need Joe Manchin — and the White House needs Joe Manchin — more than Joe Manchin needs them.”https://t.co/S4nfNRH1qQ
— On Point (@OnPointRadio) February 1, 2021