Manchin Signals No Decision Yet on Increased Stimulus Checks

Senator Joe Manchin is still assessing the need for more economic stimulus under President Joe Biden’s administration, his spokeswoman said after a report saying he opposes boosting stimulus payments to $2,000.

“Senator Manchin has made it clear that the number-one priority must be distributing and administering the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible,” Sam Runyon said in the statement Friday.

The Washington Post earlier reported that Manchin said he would “absolutely not” support a new round of checks, citing an interview. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this week that boosting the $600 payments included in last month’s Covid-19 relief package to $2,000 would be his first goal once Democrats secure control of the Senate.

Biden said in a news conference Friday that $600 wasn’t enough, reiterating his commitment to another economic support package after he takes office Jan. 20. He spoke after the government’s monthly jobs report showedpayrolls fell for the first time since April.

“When the time comes, Senator Manchin will evaluate those proposals,” Runyon said. “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.”

Schumer will preside over a 50-50 split in the Senate, where incoming Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote will confer Democratic control. That will allow Schumer to pass legislation requiring a simple majority on all-Democratic votes if he can manage to get his entire party to support it.

Schumer hasn’t said if he plans to use a fast-track procedural process requiring only 51 votes to pass a stimulus bill. He’ll need to navigate competing factions within his party, managing the demands of left-leaning lawmakers such as Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, while keeping moderates like Manchin on board.

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