But U.S. Sen. Joe 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, WSAZ-TV of Huntington, W.Va., reported.
The communication gap was a departure from the national “unity” theme that Harris and President Biden have promoted, he suggested.
“We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together,” Manchin told the station. “That’s not a way of working together.”
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.
Vice President Kamala Harris’ appearance on local TV in West Virginia didn’t sit well with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
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.
Whether the Harris interviews were designed to pressure Manchin and Sinema into backing the American Rescue Plan was not immediately clear. Following the TV appearances, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked why the vice president chose to address local media in the two states.
(U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. (Getty Images))
“We want to make the case to the American people across the country. … This is a way to do just that,” Psaki said. She added that Harris would likely do more regional interviews in other states.
In her TV remarks, Harris 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.
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.”
“We want to help everybody that needs help. 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.”
— U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Harris added the plan would also give money to businesses, schools so kids could go back safely, extend the eviction moratorium, and create a national vaccine program, she told WSAZ.
A reporter from the station asked Harris why the many Trump supporters West Virginia should trust the new administration.
“Because we have faith in the American people,” she said. “We ran as Democrats, but we are Americans and we will lead as Americans. We want our country to be strong, we want our country to be healthy, we want our children to thrive, and that’s the bottom line. That’s why we’re doing this.”
She also told interviewers in both states that President Biden believes that solving the climate change crisis and job creation complement each other.
“It’s about investing in everything that ranges from manufacturing so that America is the leader in electric vehicles, to what we can do to invest in infrastructure, and that’s about jobs,” she told KNXV-TV in Phoenix. “Our plan includes what we will do to actually invest in America’s work force.”
She also said the administration wanted to work to help coal miners in West Virginia transfer their job skills.
“All of those skilled workers who are in the coal industry and transferring those skills to what we need to do in terms of dealing with reclaiming abandoned land mines,” she told WSAZ.
“What we need to do around plugging leaks from oil and gas wells; and, transferring those important skills to the work that has yet to be done that needs to get done.”
She added to KNXV that the only way all Americans would be able to efficiently get the vaccine is by “having the resources to support governors like [Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican] to support local folks to get the resources … to have vaccines, vaccination centers. We have a whole plan in the American Rescue plan that’s about a national program for vaccinations.”