Sen. Manchin blames both sides for 'bickering' over coronavirus stimulus bill

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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said on “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday that the current emergency coronavirus stimulus bill is “balanced and has transparency.”

Manchin made the comment one day after Democrats blocked the latest COVID-19-related legislation from moving forward.

“We were this close, this close, and yesterday morning the speaker of the House flew back from San Francisco and suddenly the Senate's serious bipartisan process turned into this left-wing episode of ‘Supermarket Sweep,’” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Monday.

Democrats, for the second time, on Monday blocked the legislation from moving forward, claiming the plan did too much for large corporations and not enough for workers. Republicans accused them of playing politics and using the crisis as leverage to try and jam through unrelated political “wish list” items concerning climate change and more.

Fox News host Ed Henry noted that “there were some tense moments on the Senate floor” on Monday and added that Democrats and Republicans have said they have since made some progress on the coronavirus stimulus bill. On Tuesday, Henry also noted that Manchin and McConnell went back and forth in the Senate chamber on Tuesday.

“One of the things that you were pressing Senator McConnell on was about a cash flow to hospitals, particularly in your state,” Henry told Manchin on Tuesday.

He went on to note that Manchin wants “to get people the health care they need” and pointed out that there are people who are thinking: “Your party blocked this bill twice and it has $100 billion for hospitals.”

Henry then asked, “Weren't you slowing down the cash flow to those hospitals?”

In response, Manchin said: “When we did not vote to advance the bill the first two times … that money wasn't there. That's what the negotiations were all about.”

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He added, “We want to avert a financial meltdown. We definitely all want to do that.”

Manchin went on to say that “we have a medical meltdown now” and if money is not injected “on the front end of this for our medical providers” and “protecting our medical workers” it could prove detrimental.

He said the bill should be focused on "keeping people safe," which includes finding treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19, which he acknowledged could take at least a year or more.

"We had two bills when we got back here on Monday, we had two bills that we moved through in a truly developed in a bipartisan way. You heard no squabbling at all," Manchin said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated on Tuesday that negotiations are yielding progress, and the chamber could be close to a deal and a new vote.

Mnuchin said Tuesday, "We're very close."

The Senate’s draft legislation would have provided payments of up to $1,200 per person.

Central to the package was as much as $350 billion for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. Democrats, though, want constraints on the largely Republican-led effort to provide $500 billion for corporations, which Democrats have called a "slush fund.”

House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered their own version of a coronavirus stimulus bill on Monday. But buried inside the proposal are a host of items that Republicans charge are unrelated to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The bill, proposed by Pelosi, D-Calif., seeks to eliminate debt held by the U.S. postal service, require same-day voter registration, pay off $10,000 in student debt per person, mandate that airlines taking aid reduce their overall carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, and force federal agencies to explain to Congress how they are increasing their usage of “minority banks.”

“There’s going to be tax credits for an awful lot of things probably when you have a bill this big, almost two-and-a-half trillion dollars,” Manchin said on Tuesday. “We’ve never seen anything like it.”

He went on to say, “The system hasn't been working. We haven't had a lot of amendments on the bill, we haven’t even had bills on the floor that we can even work so I blame both sides.”

He added, “Get away from this bickering and let's get something done.”

On Tuesday, Manchin also said that he is now “optimistic and all of us are optimistic.”

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Referencing the earlier draft of the bill he said, “There was $500 billion, almost a half a trillion dollars that had very little oversight. At least somebody has to answer to the constituents back home and that’s our job.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.