Former Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie warned Sunday that putting too much pressure on Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin over the $15 minimum wage could backfire.
Christie joined a panel on ABC’s “This Week” to discuss the latest coronavirus relief package and Democratic efforts to include a minimum wage increase in the final package. (RELATED: ‘They Can’t Blow It Down The Line’: Manchin Signals He’d Vote ‘No’ On Party Line COVID-19 Deal)
Former Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he saw the fight for a $15 minimum wage as an “opportunity” for bipartisan cooperation — but that forcing it into the COVID-19 relief package could result in a “no” vote that would haunt President Joe Biden’s administration.
ABC correspondent Yvette Simpson disagreed, arguing that taking the minimum wage off the table would only give Congress more time to “compromise it away.”
Republican strategist Alice Stewart pushed back, saying that Democrats had taken a relatively nonpartisan issue — helping Americans still reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic — and made it partisan by injecting the minimum wage into the discussion.
“I have known Joe Manchin for 12 years, he’s not voting for it. It’s over. Joe Manchin is the only standing living Democrat left in West Virginia. So if you want to treat Joe Manchin that way, we’ll welcome him to the Republican Party,” Christie said.
Simpson pushed back, saying that the answer was to organize Manchin’s constituents to pressure him for support.
“Good, you can organize them. In the meantime, Mitch McConnell will be the majority leader again,” Christie replied. “It’s hard to be a Democrat in West Virginia.”
“If Joe Manchin wants to be a Republican let him be a Republican,” Simpson said.
Emanuel noted that Biden hadn’t won a single county in West Virginia, suggesting that threatening Manchin — who is popular in his home state — would not necessarily be wise.
“We cannot allow one man from West Virginia to control this entire next four years,” Simpson protested.
Stewart pushed back, saying that it also wasn’t acceptable for one faction within the Democratic Party to control COVID-19 relief. “It should have been taken care of long ago and stand alone,” she said.