ABC's Jon Karl urges Manchin to use his 'red lines' to pressure Republicans, not Democrats, on infrastructure

“You get hammered all the time by fellow Democrats, especially progressives who say you are constantly drawing red lines for what you’ll support and, you know, creating limits on how far Democrats will be able to go now that you control all the House, the Senate, and the White House,” Karl began in his line of questioning for Manchin.

From there, Karl offered some advice on how Manchin could better use those “red lines” in the infrastructure debate. Namely, to move Republicans to accept the massive $ 6 trillion proposal of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

“What do you say to those that say, ‘Why don’t you draw some red lines with Republicans?'” Karl asked. “Why don’t you say, unless they come around and agree to the stuff you just talked about –you know, bringing up the corporate tax rate again, some of the other issues, maybe voting rights, some of the other issues that Republicans are blocking – why don’t you draw a red line and say, ‘Look, if you don’t move on this, I’m going to go and endorse and doing away with the filibuster’?”


“I mean, that’s your leverage. You are the man with the leverage,” insisted Karl.

Manchin said he was “sorry” that the vote was so split, but he’s “not changing.” Unlike the loftier plan, the infrastructure plan he’s on board with, Manchin argued, has pay-fors and won’t be added to the debt.

“But if they think in reconciliation I’m going to throw caution to the wind and go to $ 5 or $ 6 trillion when we can only afford one or one and a half or maybe two and what we can pay for, then I can’t be there,” he explained.

Some viewers defended Manchin’s record and suggested that Karl’s questions sounded less like an interview and more like a pressure campaign.

“Good lord, @jonkarl,” tweeted former Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. “Manchin votes with the Democrats on lots of issues. His redlines are in his regular votes.”

“Stop working for the ruling party,” Grenell added.

Others wondered whether Karl would have had the same urgency if his guest was a moderate Republican.

“Did @jonkarl ever suggest moderate Republicans needed to embrace the Tea Party?” asked the Media Research Center’s Tim Graham.

Despite Thursday’s seemingly successful negotiations over a traditional infrastructure bill, President Biden irked Republicans shortly after by suggesting he would not sign the deal if it did not go “in tandem” with Sanders’ sweeping new spending bill chock-full of tax hikes and social spending. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. was among the Republicans to note that was “not part of the deal we agreed to” and that if Biden’s threat was true, the measure would not pass.

Biden walked back his remarks in a statement over the weekend, admitting that his words “understandably upset some Republicans.”

“My comments created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent,” Biden said Saturday.

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