Moderate lawmakers began to take center stage in the budget impasse as the Senate appeared poised to put together a deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling Wednesday--just a day before the Treasury said it would have exhausted its borrowing authority.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said on Wednesday's The Daily Rundown that a bipartisan group had been working all along toward a solution--even as the most conservative members of the House continued to dig in. The moderate Democrat, who's been part of the group of 14 senators, led by Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, said he believes the Senate is moving closer to a deal Wednesday, and that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were supportive of their progress.
"It's a template of what we’ve put together, and we're very encouraged that Reid and McConnell" are moving forward, said Manchin.
"I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but there’s a time to move forward. You’ve got to put the good of the country first," said Manchin. "The only place you can get a decision is in the middle."
Decisions don't come "from the fringes or the extremes," he added.
"I’m probably the most independent in the center," Manchin added. "But I truly believe my colleagues on the Republican side overplayed this."
In September, the House GOP insisted that a stopgap budget bill, designed to keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30 deadline, include anti-Obamacare provisions that delayed or defunded the president's landmark health care law. The bill was a known non-starter with the Senate and the White House, and it triggered the shutdown--now on Day 16.
"If we allow this to happen, we should have a gut check as to why we’re here," said Manchin.
But Manchin did joke that he disagreed with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who said earlier this week, if "I was in the Senate right now, I’d kill myself.”
"We won’t do that," if there's not a deal by midnight, Manchin said, "but we might be on suicide watch."