Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 8, 2015

Manchin Shows First Crack in Democratic Front on Debt Limit

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Joe Manchin III said Tuesday that Democrats should negotiate a debt deal as part of the debt limit increase — a break from Democratic leaders and President Barack Obama.

The West Virginia Democrat said he personally is “looking for a bigger plan” to reduce the debt as part of the discussion to authorize payment of the government’s bills.

Manchin talked to a group of reporters before Democrats’ weekly luncheon Tuesday and said he supports using the debt limit debate as a vehicle to attach deficit reduction, such as the Bowles-Simpson plan. He also said he had not heard of any plans to move forward with a clean debt limit bill, despite Democratic leaders and the president repeatedly vowing not to negotiate any concessions to the GOP under threat of a default. Manchin would not say whether this meant he would join the GOP in filibustering debate over a straight-up extension of the debt limit that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., planned to introduce Tuesday.

“I’m looking for a bigger plan. … I’m worried about my children and grandchildren and it seems like here all we’re worried about is how we get to our next crisis,” Manchin said. “People may be talking about no negotiation. You’ve got to negotiate. That’s what we’re here to do.”

When pressed on whether he thought it was a “mistake” for Reid to push forward with a clean debt limit bill, which could be voted on as early as this week, Manchin would not say.

“I’m not going to say what is going to be a mistake, [but] I’ve never seen anything that’s been a big hit around here,” Manchin said.

After Tuesday’s lunch, the West Virginia Democrat did not clarify or change his position, though Democrats did discuss a clean debt ceiling bill strategy Manchin claimed to have never heard of previously.

Democratic leadership aides have said they believe their bosses can hold all 54 members of their caucus on a procedural vote to consider the clean debt limit bill, just like they did in repeated votes on bills from House Republicans leading up to and since the shutdown Oct. 1. And as we reported Monday, several Republicans are poised to break with their party to support opening up debate on the bill to avert a government default.

But Manchin’s comments and the potential actions they belie do not constitute the first problem for leaders from the West Virginian’s outsized and oft-expressed shoot-from-the-hip opinions. And it most likely won’t be the last.

Comments (54)

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  1. DrSquishy

    Oct. 8, 2013
    6:08 p.m.

    Manchin always says stuff but still votes with the party.

  2. Ash Rdrr

    Oct. 8, 2013
    6:12 p.m.

    obviously clueless what an 2014 election issue is ….or ,,,,,he is a closet conservative perhaps

  3. John bolster

    Oct. 9, 2013
    7:42 a.m.

    Wow country over party what a concept!

  4. Cameiros

    Oct. 9, 2013
    10:09 a.m.

    You can always tell how big a hypocrite a politician is when s/he brings up their children.
    Manchin, the only thing you’re worried about is your re-election.

  5. DanH

    Oct. 9, 2013
    11:22 a.m.

    O.K. the President sits down with Republicans and says he wants:Single
    payer health insurance for everyone,background checks on all gun
    sales,limit of 10 round clips,ban on military style rifles,no cap on
    income subject to FICA,a line inserted into the U.S. tax code stating
    that”on all income over 500000 dollars no loophole or subsidies shall
    bring the income tax liability below 30%”,all public lands leased for
    mineral or oil production shall pay the government 15% of all profits
    made off said land(it is public land the public should benefit) No state
    shall receive more in federal funds than it sends the federal
    government.I think that would be a nice start.

  6. James

    Oct. 15, 2013
    11:03 a.m.

    Manchin is a West Virginia Democrat, meaning he’s really a Republican and everyone knows he’s probably a closet member of the Tea Party.

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