Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Friday voiced firm opposition to providing $2,000 stimulus checks, putting the moderate lawmaker at odds with President-elect Joe Biden, congressional Democrats and even some Republicans.
“Absolutely not. No,” Manchin told The Washington Post in an interview published Friday. “Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1.”
“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check,” he said.
Manchin in a tweet, later said if a new round of checks go out, they should be targeted to ensure they go to those in need.
The COVID-19 relief bill recently signed into law delivered $600 checks to Americans with individual incomes at $75,000 or below.
There was a last-second push by President Trump, joined by Democrats and some Republicans, to raise the amount to $2,000. Such legislation was approved by the House but was blocked by Senate Republicans.
With Biden taking office on Jan. 20 and Democrats set to take the Senate majority that day after two victories this week in Georgia, there is new momentum for the checks.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), who is poised to become majority leader, said Wednesday “one of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families.”
Some GOP senators have publicly backed the larger checks.
Asked for comment on Friday, a spokesperson for Manchin suggested the West Virginia senator would be open to considering the larger stimulus checks one the coronavirus vaccine is distributed.
“Senator Manchin has made it clear that the number one priority must be distributing and administering the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible,” Sam Runyon, a spokesperson for Manchin told The Hill in a statement.
“He has also said repeatedly that when the Biden administration comes in they can assess the needs of the American people and submit proposals to Congress about how to best address those needs,” the statement continued. “When the time comes, Senator Manchin will evaluate those proposals. 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.”
But unless Senate Democrats use special budgetary rules to avoid a filibuster from opponents, it is not clear they could win 60 votes of support.
After Biden is inaugurated, both parties will hold 50 seats, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris breaking ties.