West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is strongly opposed to a $2,000 stimulus check, he revealed on Friday. Manchin, a Democrat, has broken with other lawmakers in his party by opposing the plans for another round of stimulus checks once President-elect Joe Biden takes office. He told The Washington Post that he did not see how direct payments would help heal the economy as a whole.
"Absolutely not. No," Manchin said when asked if he supports the call for another, larger stimulus check. "Getting people vaccinated, that's job number one. 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 going to do that to a person that's already got a check."
If the next round of stimulus checks goes out they should be targeted to those who need it. https://t.co/MWvt9EHOBS— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) January 8, 2021
When the interview was published, Manchin added on Twitter: "If the next round of stimulus checks goes out they should be targeted to those who need it." This drew snarky retorts from many critics on social media, who thought that Manchin was vastly underestimating how many Americans need financial help.
Manchin is the exception to a growing trend of Democrats supporting another stimulus check, bigger than the last two. Now that Biden is taking office and the Georgia run-off election gave Democrats the majority in the United States Senate, the party is ambitious about providing coronavirus relief faster and more efficiently.
On Wednesday, the soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: "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."
Still, the Senate's majority would be slim, so a dissenter like Manchin could throw the whole bill off. Later on Friday, a spokesperson for Manchin spoke to The Hill, suggesting that Manchin's stance is not set in stone on this issue.
"[Manchin] 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 rep said. "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."
Manchin's outlier status may be a sign of the gridlock to come for the 117th U.S. Congress. Along with Biden, they take office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.