Sen. Joe Manchin, a key Democratic lawmaker, said he will not support another round of stimulus checks, saying there are more pressing matters at hand.
"Absolutely not. No," the West Virginia lawmaker told the Washington Post. "Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1. ... How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check."
Over the last several weeks, an increasing number of Congress members have expressed support for including $2,000 stimulus checks in the next COVID-19 relief package. The latest relief bill sent $600 to Americans earning $75,000 or less, a move that was widely criticized as the payments were half the amount of what was sent in the first round of stimulus checks.
In late December, the Democratic-controlled House managed to pass a bill that boosted payments to $2,000 for each American. The measure was swiftly blocked by the then-Republican-controlled Senate. However, the Democrats' recent Senate victories in Georgia gave Americans some hope that the $2,000 payments were on the horizon.
"If you send Jon [Ossoff] and the Reverend [Raphael Warnock] to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now," Biden said during a campaign rally this week. "And if you send [GOP incumbents avid Perdue and Kelly Loeffler] back to Washington, those checks will never get there. It's just that simple. The power is literally in your hands."
Democratic challengers Warnock and Jon Ossoff have been declared the winners of Georgia's Senate runoff elections, giving the Democrats control of the Senate and the power to pass $2,000 direct payments to Americans.
Shortly after the Post's article was published, Manchin took to Twitter to say, "If the next round of stimulus checks goes out they should be targeted to those who need it."
Manchin's spokesperson Sam Runyon told the Hill that the senator wasn't firmly opposed to increasing stimulus payments, but wants to first address the global pandemic before evaluating another round of proposed checks.
"Senator Manchin has made it clear that the number one priority must be distributing and administering the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible," Runyon said in a statement. "He has also said repeatedly that when the Biden administration comes in they can assess the needs of the American people and submit proposals to Congress about how to best address those needs. When the time comes, Senator Manchin will evaluate those proposals. He has also made clear that the focus when delivering economic relief must be on those who are unemployed through no fault of their own."
Read reactions to Manchin's comments below: