President-elect Joe Biden announced some economic priorities on Friday, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) promptly poked some holes in his plans.
Biden began laying out his framework for the next round of COVID-19 relief, reports The Washington Post, and said his plans include a multi-trillion-dollar package that would provide “more direct relief flowing to families, small businesses,” in part via $2,000 stimulus checks.
But Manchin, who Axios notes will become an increasingly important player as a moderate in the Democrats’ razor-thin Senate majority, seemed taken aback by Biden’s promise. “I don’t know where in the hell $2,000 came from. I swear to God I don’t,” he said. “That’s another $400 billion dollars.” Since Republicans are united in opposing larger checks, resistance from a single Democrat could throw a wrench in Biden’s plans.
He told the Post he would “absolutely not” support larger stimulus checks for Americans, but a spokesperson later seemed to walk back his resistance, insisting Manchin “isn’t drawing a red line against” $2,000 checks, but simply “believes vaccine distribution should be a higher priority,” as NBC News’ Sahil Kapur put it. Perhaps realizing how consequential his hardline opposition to the plan may be, Manchin later tweeted to note he was open to discussion. “If the next round of stimulus checks goes out they should be targeted to those who need it,” he wrote. Conspicuously, between Manchin’s initial comments and his clarification, markets seemed to notice the potential roadblock.