In an attempt to push a COVID-19 relief package known as the America Rescue Plan, the White House apparently decided to deploy the big guns, sending Vice President Kamala Harris out to talk to local news stations in states with moderate Senate Democrats in order to convince voters into pressuring those Democrats into supporting the plan.
According to The Hill, Democrats who represent the states that Harris conducted her Zoom-based interviews in were not made aware of the plans, including centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who expressed frustration and surprise that he wasn’t told ahead of time about Harris’ plans in his own state.
“I saw [the interview]. I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it],” Manchin said, according to a WSAZ report. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.”
Given Manchin’s firm record of centrist leanings in the Democrat party, the White House obviously knows that he’ll be a key swing vote in any proposed COVID-19 relief packages, especially one as massive as the America Rescue Plan, which will likely clock in at a cost of about $1.9 trillion.
Democrats may hold a majority in the upper chamber’s 50-50 split because of Harris’ tie-breaking vote, but it’s crucial to shoring up support from moderates like Manchin who could vote with Republicans on pieces of legislation that come with enormous costs.
In order to pass such a package, it would need a 60-vote majority in the Senate — meaning the White House would need all 50 Democrats and 10 Republicans to sign on in support of the bill, which is a tall obstacle, to say the least.
According to the Washington Examiner, Harris held nothing back in her plea to West Virginia voters with regard to the America Rescue Plan, telling viewers that states like West Virginia especially need the help given what they’ve been through as the COVID-19 virus wrecked the state’s economy.
“The president and I feel very strongly that these are the moments, when we are facing a crisis of unbelievable proportion, that the American people deserve their leaders to step up and stand up for them,” Harris said in her WSAZ interview.
But as Manchin indicated, if the White House really wants the bill to gain the support it needs, starting off by undermining another senator’s turf without his knowledge is not exactly the bipartisan spirit they’re currently promoting.