West Virginia's Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, appeared to denounce Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday after she appeared on the state's local TV station, WSAZ, noting that the coronavirus relief plan is "a big issue" for the region and the country.
Manchin told the same station that Harris' remarks on the recently proposed American Rescue Plan (ARP) rolled out by the Biden team to tackle the coronavirus pandemic took him by surprise.
“I saw [the interview], I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it],” Manchin complained to the station. “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.”
A fellow Democrat, Manchin is a part of a moderate bipartisan group that criticized the suggestions made by the Biden cabinet. The senator voiced his preference for more targeted measures, arguing that the financial aid is more vital for people who are struggling to make ends meet.
"We met with his economic team and they put out what they wanted. We want to help everybody that needs help,” Manchin said, reiterating his position that he supports the increase of coronavirus stimulus checks. “But if a person is making $250,000 or $300,000, I don’t think they’re in much as need as a person making $40,000 or $50,000. We’re going to target it.”
His comments come shortly after VP Harris spoke to WSAZ's Amanda Barren about the ARP, referring to the impact caused by the pandemic on the country and on West Virginia in particular.
"To your point in West Virginia, one in seven families is describing their household as being hungry, one in six can’t pay their rent, and one in four small businesses are closing permanently or have already closed, so it’s a big issue in West Virginia and across the country", the US vice president asserted.
What's in the Biden Plan?
According to ARP, individuals, among other entities, will receive a direct payment of $1,400 that, totaled with an earlier $600, will equal a promised $2,000. Biden designated some $2 trillion for the economic plan, saying that the sum will also be poured into the vaccination program, safe school reopenings and help to small businesses and working families.
The initiative, however, has raised concerns among some in the GOP who believe that Biden's generosity could damage the American economy. Manchin, according to WSAZ, noted that Congress has already invested $4.8 trillion in less than a year - a sum that, he said, eclipses the entire US budget.
Earlier in January, the bipartisan group of 16 senators held a discussion with White House economic adviser Brian Deese; Jeff Zients, Biden’s coronavirus coordinator, and Louisa Terrell, head of White House legislative affairs, to justify the size of the new stimulus plan.
“I was the first to raise that issue, but there seemed to be a lot of agreement […] that those payments need to be more targeted,” Maine's Republican senator, Susan Collins, told Politico. “I would say that it was not clear to me how the administration came up with its $1.9 trillion figure for the package.”
She then went on to suggest coming up with what she characterized as a "reasonable package" that she and her group would support.