Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Sunday defended his moderate position after holding up the final vote on the American Rescue Plan, the Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, for 10 hours. His area of concern was unemployment benefits. Democrats struck a compromise with Manchin, lowering extended unemployment benefits from $400 a week to $300.
But for Manchin, this is bigger than COVID relief. This is about finding common ground with Republicans to move bills forward in a bipartisan fashion.
"I didn't do anything intentionally whatsoever," Manchin said on ABC News. "I did everything I could to bring us together so we'd have more support, and the public would get the needed help, as needed. We have so many different ways that we're helping the public with this piece of legislation."
“I look for that moderate middle. The common sense that comes with the moderate middle is who I am. That’s what people expect. My state of West Virginia, they know me, they know how I’ve governed. I’ve tried to basically represent them in the best of my ability,” he stated.
JUST IN: Sen. Joe Manchin defends his vote that resulted in reduced unemployment benefits in sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill: "I didn't do anything intentionally whatsoever, I did everything I could to bring us together so we have more support." https://t.co/B647FVsxTA pic.twitter.com/TwdFZjvkdS— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) March 7, 2021
He shared a similar point of view on MSNBC's "Meet the Press," saying bipartisanship is necessary.
"I'm not willing to go into reconciliation until we at least get bipartisanship or get working together or allow the Senate to do its job," he explained. "Just by assuming, 'Hey, they'll never work with us, that's the other side,' that's tribal. 'Republicans will never agree on anything or Democrats will never agree.' I don't subscribe to that, I don't buy into that."
The West Virginia senator said he's "not going to change my mind on the filibuster" but he's open to changing his mind on whether a bill needs to go through the reconciliation process.
"I'm not going to go there until my Republican friends have the ability to have their say also," Manchin said bluntly.
He said he is hopeful that a cluster of 10 to 15 Republicans would be willing to compromise with Democrats on legislation moving forward so bills can reach the 60 vote threshold to pass.
WATCH: Sen. Manchin tells @chucktodd, "I'm not going to change my mind on the filibuster." #MTP@Sen_JoeManchin: "I’ll change my mind if we need to go to a reconciliation ... But I'm not going to go there until my Republican friends have the ability to have their say also." pic.twitter.com/rzDnE18rTA— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) March 7, 2021