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Crucial swing vote, Senator Joe Manchin signals his priorities

Senator Joe Manchin
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West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has emerged as a key swing vote in the 50-50 Senate, yielding make-or-break status over large portions of President Joe Biden’s agenda that must get Congress’ approval.

He’s now signalling he’s willing to discuss changes to the filibuster, tax hikes, climate change and other topics. His support makes a big difference in whether these issues can move forward in the evenly split Senate.

Manchin represents a state that voted for former President Donald Trump and is a moderate on many issues who is willing to work across party lines.

He held up passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Thursday because he wanted changes made to the enhanced unemployment insurance benefits and signaled he would support a Republican amendment.

After the final vote on the package, in which no Republican voted for it, Manchin shared his frustration that Republicans were not included in discussions about the massive package.

He believes “some” Republicans would have been onboard with the massive package with just a few concessions, according to an interview with Axios.

"I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them (Republicans) out completely before we start trying," Manchin said.

Manchin will insist Republicans have more say in Biden’s next big legislative package, he told Axios, and will push for tax hikes to pay for an anticipated infrastructure and climate proposal. He suggested raising the corporate tax rate and repealing some of Trump’s tax cuts.

Manchin chairs the Energy Committee, and told Axios he will use his position "to try and inject some reality", and get the GOP to tackle climate change.

In other interviews over the weekend, Manchin said he is willing to talk about changes to the current filibuster rules, including making a lawmaker speak the whole time they want to hold up legislation.