Joe Manchin declines to say if he wants Democrats to retain control of Congress

Democratic US senator pitches latest climate bill to colleague

Joe Manchin, Democratic US Senator, departs as the Senate breaks for the Memorial Day recess, at the Capitol in Washington. AP
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Joe Manchin, a US Senator and one of the Democratic Party's most conservative members, declined on Sunday to endorse US President Joe Biden if he were to seek re-election in 2024.

The contrarian Democrat also refused to say whether he wants his party to retain control of Congress after the midterm elections later this year.

“I’m not getting into 2022 or 2024,” he said, adding that “whoever is my president, that’s my president.”

The senator said control of US Congress would be determined by voters in individual states, rather than his own preferences.

“I think people are sick and tired of politics, I really do. I think they’re sick and tired of Democrats and Republicans fighting and feuding and holding pieces of legislation hostage because they didn’t get what they wanted,” he said, adding, “I’m not going to predict what’s going to happen.”

The West Virginia senator, who faces re-election in 2024, also threw his support behind a bill that would provide health care to to 3.5 million US veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits. Some veterans exposed to burn pits reported illnesses including respiratory difficulties and cancer, Bloomberg reported.

Forty-one Republican senators, who previously supported a near-identical version of the bill, shifted tactics to force a debate on amendments that would reduce future mandatory spending. Pat Toomey, a Republican senator, says the bill would create an additional $400 million in spending unrelated to veterans.

The switch was condemned by Democrats and comedian Jon Stewart.

“I'm used to the lies, I'm used to the hypocrisy, I'm used to the cowardice, I'm used to all of it, but I am not used to the cruelty,” Stewart told reporters on Friday.

Mr Manchin said Mr Toomey's concerns will be addressed.

“Pat’s going to get his amendment and then we will see where it goes,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Manchin pitches tax-climate bill to Democratic colleague

Mr Manchin, who helped craft the Democrats' latest bill to tackle climate change and inflation, publicly pitched the legislation to silent Senate colleague Kyrsten Sinema.

The Arizona senator, who blocked Democratic efforts from passing Mr Biden's Build Back Better legislation last year, has remained silent on her position of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“She has so much in this legislation,” Mr Manchin said on CNN’s State of the Union. The West Virginia senator said tax changes in the bill don’t amount to tax rate increases, something Sinema has opposed, citing the economy.

Included in the bill are provisions to address climate change, inflation and to lower medical prices.

Ms Sinema's office has said she will not make her position known until later this week at the earliest.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: July 31, 2022, 8:30 PM