Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) said Friday he would “absolutely not” support a $2,000 stimulus payment, potentially throwing a wrench in President-elect Joe Biden’s plans for a new coronavirus relief package that would include another round of checks.
“Absolutely not. No. Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1,” Manchin told the Washington Post when asked if he would endorse another round of direct payments.
“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,” Manchin said.
Biden’s team is working to craft a coronavirus relief package that will include new stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits and more, according to the Washington Post. The president-elect will also likely push for additional funding for vaccine distribution and funding to help states and cities, the report says.
Manchin, a moderate, is expected to hold a crucial vote as Democrats control the Senate in a 50-50 split with Republicans, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaker.
Biden wants to pass a new relief package quickly after he takes office on January 20, and earlier this week promised Georgia voters that they can expect to receive a $2,000 stimulus check if both Democratic U.S. Senate candidates won their elections, which they did.
“If you send Jon and the reverend to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now,” Biden said at a rally for the Democrats in Atlanta.
After Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock won their races earlier this week, incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) also promised that the $2,000 checks would be a top priority.
However, if Biden and Schumer lose even one Democratic vote they may struggle to pass legislation under special Senate rules that allow bills to pass with a simple majority, rather than the 60 vote margin generally needed.
While some Republicans have come out in favor of the $2,000 stimulus payments, it is unlikely GOP lawmakers would support other facets of Biden’s new plan, including extending unemployment benefits.
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