- Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN the January 6 insurrection “changed” him.
- “You can’t have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other,'” he said.
- Manchin will be key to shepherding Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan through the Senate.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia opened up about the impact of the January 6 insurrection on his approach to politics and shed light on his relationship with the Biden administration in a Thursday interview with CNN.
“January 6 changed me. I never thought in my life, I never read in history books to where our form of government had been attacked, at our seat of government, which is Washington, DC, at our Capitol, by our own people. So, something told me, ‘Wait a minute. Pause. Hit the pause button.’ Something’s wrong. You can’t have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other,'” Manchin, who has served in the Senate for 10 years, told CNN’s Lauren Fox.
As CNN’s Stephen Collinson noted, the January 6 insurrection itself did not represent two sides being “at war” with each other, but was a one-sided attack waged by Trump supporters on members of Congress.
Manchin was a critical vote in passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. And as a Democrat representing an otherwise red state and the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the Senate, his leadership and vote will now be crucial to shepherd President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.2 trillion infrastructure bill through Congress.
While Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough cleared a path to the Senate to pass the infrastructure bill through reconciliation, which only requires a simple 51-vote majority instead of the 60 required to get past the filibuster, Manchin has publicly raised concerns with one-party policymaking.
In a recent Washington Post op-ed and again to CNN, Manchin reiterated that he is committed to keeping the filibuster in place and warned of the dangers of legislating primarily through reconciliation, signaling his desire to try to find bipartisan compromise on infrastructure.
Manchin told CNN he has a good relationship with open lines of communication with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Whenever he calls me, he calls and then we have a good conversation. We’ve had a good friendship and relationship for a long time. We understand each other,” Manchin said of Biden.
On guns, Manchin told CNN that he is skeptical of the expanded background checks bill passed by the House, but said he supports Biden’s new executive actions on gun control cracking down on so-called ghost guns, and called David Chipman, Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, “well qualified” for the job.
Regarding voting rights, Manchin told CNN that he’d like to meet with some of the leaders on the issue in Congress, like powerful House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (who has publicly pressed Manchin on the issue) and Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
Clyburn reacted to Manchin’s interview on CNN on Friday, challenging Manchin’s suggestion that the insurrection should make members more prone to compromise.
“He said…that January 6 changed him. Well, it changed me as well,” Clyburn said. “And I want to remind him of what some of those insurrectionists were saying to those African-American law officers who were out there, one man talking about how many times he was called the n-word. I want to know: how does that man compromise in such a situation? How would he have me compromise in such a situation?”