WASHINGTON (AP) — West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the most conservative and nonconformist members of the Democrats, declined on Sunday to say whether he wants Democrats to retain control of Congress after the November election.
The senator told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that will be determined by voter choices in each state, rather than his own preferences. He added that people are “fed up with politics” and want their representatives in Washington to put country above party.
“I’ve always taken the approach, whoever you send me is your representative and I respect them and I respect the state for the people they send and I do my best to work with them and do my best for my country,” Manchin said.
Manchin faces re-election in 2024 in a state where Donald Trump has prevailed in every county in the past two presidential elections, winning more than two-thirds of West Virginia voters. But distancing himself from fellow Democrats, Manchin also tried to call out rising partisanship.
“We do not work for any party. We are not working for any political idealism,” he said, lamenting “squabbles over political outcomes and who is going to be responsible for what” at a time of global tensions, war and economic uncertainty fueled by rising of inflation.
Manchin was scheduled to appear on five news shows, the culmination of a high-profile week in which his compromise with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., reignited a set of House priorities Blanche on the climate, health care, taxes and the deficit. reduction. The West Virginia senator torpedoed a larger plan last December and had earlier lowered expectations of a substantial deal being struck.
The surprise deal, while more modest than previous iterations, appears to have helped transform Manchin from pariah to partner.
In “Fox News Sunday,” he defended the 15% minimum tax on corporations with $1 billion or more in revenue as closing “loopholes,” rather than an outright tax hike.
Manchin said the plan, the “Cutting Inflation Act,” would help create manufacturing jobs, cut $300 billion in deficits, reduce prescription drug prices and accelerate the power generation licensing process. Those are the kinds of priorities Republicans have supported in the past, Manchin said.
“We’re doing everything you asked for,” Manchin said. “I hope, and normally, it would be a bipartisan bill, but I understand the toxic atmosphere we find ourselves in.”
The Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris the deciding vote, giving Democrats control of the chamber. In the House, Democrats have a 220-211 advantage, with four vacancies. But in midterm elections, voters often reject the party that holds the White House, and this year President Joe Biden’s unpopularity and rising inflation are creating strong headwinds for Democrats.
Manchin hesitated when asked on NBC if he hoped the Democrats would retain their majority in Congress.
“I think people are tired of politics, really. I think they’re tired of Democrats and Republicans fighting and bickering and holding bills hostage because they didn’t get what they wanted,” he said, adding, “I’m not going to predict what’s going to happen. ”