White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is a “key partner” for the administration after Vice President Harris made appeared on a local West Virginia television station to discuss President Biden’s “critical” coronavirus relief plan— an appearance that angered the West Virginia senator.
Harris over the weekend promoted Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” during a pair of interviews with local TV stations in West Virginia and Arizona.
But Manchin, D-W.Va., said he was surprised by the Harris interview in his state, claiming no one from the administration had called him to discuss the appearance.
“We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together,” Manchin told WSAZ-TV of Huntington, W.Va. “That’s not working together.”
During the White House press briefing on Monday, though, Psaki called Manchin a “key partner” and said the White House has “been in touch with him.”
“We’ve been in touch with Sen. Manchin as we have been for many weeks and will continue to be moving forward,” Psaki said.
“Not only is he a key partner to the president and to the White House on this package, but on his agenda,” Psaki continued. “We will remain in close touch with him.
Manchin, 73, who has represented West Virginia in the Senate since 2010 and previously served as its governor, is known for an independent streak that has often placed him at odds with national Democratic Party leaders.
With the Senate evenly split at 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats — plus independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine who typically side with the Democrats — keeping more free-thinking Democrats like Manchin and Arizona’s Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in the fold is seen as key for the Biden administration to advance its agenda.
Meanwhile, during Harris’ interview, she explained the “urgency” of the $1.9 trillion plan that would give out an additional $1,400 in stimulus checks to Americans, expand unemployment insurance, and increase the child tax credit.
But when asked about the plan, Manchin said he believed the stimulus checks should go only to those in need, not to everyone.
“We want to help everybody that needs help,” Manchin told WSAZ. “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.”
Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.