Los Angeles Times

Manchin declines to endorse Biden for 2024


WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin III, one of the Democrats’ most conservati­ve and contrarian members, declined Sunday to endorse Joe Biden if the president seeks a second term in 2024 and refused to say whether he wants Democrats to retain control of Congress after the November elections.

In a round of appearance­s on five news shows, the West Virginia senator also expressed hope that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (DAriz.) will back a Democratic package of climate, healthcare and tax initiative­s that he negotiated.

She joined Manchin last year in forcing cuts and changes in larger versions of the plan, and support from every Democrat in the 50-50 Senate — plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreakin­g vote — is needed to overcome anticipate­d unanimous Republican opposition in votes expected this week. Sinema has declined to tell reporters her stance.

“I would like to think she would be favorable toward it,” he said.

Beyond that, Manchin demurred when pressed about supporting his party or its nominee for president in upcoming elections.

“I’m not getting into 2022 or 2024,” he said, adding that “whoever is my president, that’s my president.”

Manchin said control of Congress will be determined by the choices of voters in individual states, rather than his own preference­s.

The senator faces reelection in 2024 in a state where Donald Trump prevailed in every county in the last two presidenti­al races, winning more than two-thirds of West Virginia’s voters.

Manchin also tried to decry the rise of partisansh­ip and suggested America’s path forward will need to move beyond traditiona­l party-line politics.

His national TV interviews culminated a highprofil­e week in which his compromise with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) revived a package of White House priorities on climate, healthcare, taxes and deficit reduction.

Manchin had torpedoed a grander plan in December and lowered expectatio­ns about a substantia­l agreement being reached.

Both he and Sinema were previously aligned in opposing plans from Democratic senators to spend as much as $3.5 trillion on a climate and social justice bill.

Sinema, however, was cut out of the most recent discussion­s on the bill, which would narrow the so-called carried interest loophole, bringing in $14 billion of the proposal’s $739 billion in new revenue. Sinema has previously opposed doing that.

Manchin said Sunday that he did not brief Sinema or anyone else in the Democratic caucus on negotiatio­ns because of the risk that discussion­s would fall through. Acknowledg­ing he has not tried to speak to Sinema since announcing the deal, Manchin said there were plenty of reasons she would be “positive about it.”

He said the plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, would help with manufactur­ing jobs, reduce deficits by $300 billion, lower prescripti­on drug prices and accelerate the permitting process for energy production.

Sinema “has an awful lot in this piece of legislatio­n the way it’s been designed as far as the reduction of Medicare, letting Medicare go ahead and negotiate for lower drug prices,” Manchin said.

He defended the 15% minimum tax on corporatio­ns with $1 billion or more of earnings as closing “loopholes,” rather than an outright tax increase.

“I agree with her 100% we’re not going to raise taxes, and we don’t,” he said.

Schumer wants Senate passage this week, though he acknowledg­ed that timeline is “going to be hard” because it will take time for the chamber’s parliament­arian to make sure the bill conforms to Senate rules.

In the House, Democrats have a 220-211 edge, with four vacancies, leaving little margin for error for passage.

Manchin offered praise for Biden in regard to the bill because “you don’t do a bill this magnitude and this size without the president knowing what’s going on, the president being involved in, to a certain extent, but also giving approval.”

But in midterm elections, voters often reject the party that holds the White House, and this year, Biden’s unpopulari­ty and rising inflation are creating strong headwinds for Democrats.

Manchin appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” CNN’s “State of the Union,” ABC’s “This Week,” “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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