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Joe Manchin says the US 'is not a center-left' country and laments 'a hostile working environment' in the Senate

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  • Joe Manchin
    United States Senator from West Virginia
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., pauses while speaking with reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021 in Washington
Sen. Joe Manchin at a news conference on Monday. AP Photo/Alex Brandon
  • Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN on Thursday that the US "is not a center-left" country.

  • The West Virginia Democrat hasn't fully gotten behind Biden's $1.75 trillion social-spending bill.

  • Manchin also bemoaned that he goes to work "in a hostile working environment every day."

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Thursday said the US "is not a center-left" country in justifying not getting behind the framework for President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion social-spending package. In an interview with CNN's "New Day," he also described the Senate as "a hostile working environment."

Manchin has played a major role in putting the kibosh on the inclusion of tuition-free community college, a fee on methane emissions, and comprehensive paid family leave in the massive social-spending package, rankling many of his colleagues. The US is the only developed nation in the world without guaranteed paid parental and family leave.

"We just have to work together. We can't go too far left. This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center, if anything, a little center-right country; that's being shown, and we ought to be able to recognize that," Manchin told the "New Day" anchor John Berman on Thursday.

"And all my friends on the left are progressives or liberals or whatever. I've said I'm not. I always say that I'm a responsible West Virginia Democrat, and I'm fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. I think most people in the middle feel that way. But I also empathize with the people on the far left and the far right - that's aspirational," Manchin added.

Manchin, known for his close working partnerships and friendships with senators on the other side of the aisle, also lamented the partisanship in the Senate and cast himself as the victim of the atmosphere in Congress.

"You want to know what's wrong with the place? I go to work in a hostile working environment every day," he said.

"If you're a Democrat, and a Republican's up for election, you're supposed to be against that person. If Donald Duck's running against that person, you're supposed to give money from your PAC to help the other person beat the person that you've been working with," Manchin added.

"And even sometimes they'll say, 'Can you come campaign against so-and-so?' And then we come back on Monday, and here's the person that we've given money against, and here's the person that we're supposed to give - basically go out and work against, saying, 'Hey, could you sign on to this amendment for me?'"

Democrats are feeling a greater sense of urgency to pass both components of Biden's economic agenda after the party's devastating trio of election losses in Virginia - but Manchin still holds most of the cards in the Senate.

"I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact it will have on our national debt, our economy, and the American people," Manchin told reporters on Monday, calling for an end to "political games."

In the coming days, the House could vote on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which the Senate passed in August, and the $1.75 trillion spending plan.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday that she'd added four weeks of paid leave to the House's version of the $1.75 trillion package. Manchin said that would be "a challenge" to support.

The West Virginia senator has expressed concerns about funding for a paid-family-leave program. He told Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig that he wanted paid leave to be funded with a new payroll tax on employers and workers.

Additionally, Manchin has said he'd want the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate the package and score its impact on the deficit - a process that could take days or weeks - before voting on it.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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