Sen. Manchin defends vote for COVID-19 relief bill

West Virginia

(WOWK/CBS News) — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) spent much of Sunday morning talking about his vote for President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill after the $15 minimum wage amendment was removed then re-attached at the last minute Friday.

Before the COVID-19 legislative vote, Manchin delayed the measure Friday, March 5, due to his concerns about the size and duration of an expanded unemployment benefit.

The House of Representatives had approved the relief bill which included $400 weekly jobless benefits and regular state payments to last until August. Manchin hoped to reduce those costs, saying that the level of payment would discourage people from returning to work.

To placate these concerns, Senate leaders, Manchin and the White House struck a deal to lower the benefit to $300 per week and extended the benefits to Sept. 6. This deal also includes the first $10,200 tax-free from unemployment benefits on top of what recipients are getting through their state unemployment insurance program.

Manchin opposed a $15 minimum wage provision in the $1.9 billion pandemic stimulus package, even after activists rallied outside his state office in Charleston.

The $15 minimum wage was removed from the Senate plan after the Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian ruled it had to be dropped from the bill.

On Sunday Manchin appeared on Fox News Sunday and on ABC News’ This Week, about his vote for the measure, which led to the approval of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

In his interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, Manchin was asked if he would “tank this bill” if he didn’t get what he wanted.

“Absolutely not. That’s not how negotiations should go and that should never be the intent of anybody,” said Manchin. “There was nothing that I wanted more than to have a balanced bill.”

During his interview with Martha Raddatz on ABC News’ “This Week,” Manchin said he wanted to lower the minimum wage to $11 as a base. “That should be your base and then we index it with inflation to make sure that it never gets back in this political conundrum we have right now,” said Manchin. “The base of our minimum wage should be above the poverty guideline so you have the respect and dignity of work.”

The stimulus has now moved back to the House, where it needs to get approved a second time before President Biden could sign it into law.

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