Democratic Sen. Manchin wants one-year delay on individual mandate

September 26, 2013

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says he wants the individual mandate portion of Obamacare to be delayed by a year, as part of a compromise between Democrats and Republicans on the budget.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) (Reuters)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) (Reuters)

"Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now,” Manchin (W.Va.) told Bloomberg. “Give them at least a year. If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”

Manchin has been among the Democrats most critical of President Obama and his health care law.

While his position is notable, he's not saying he would join with GOP senators and vote against Senate Democrats' effort to restore Obamacare funding in current budget negotiations. For now, that is the crux of the disagreement between Republicans who want to defund the entire law and Democrats who want to fund it.

Instead, Manchin appears to be proposing a sort of middle-ground compromise -- one that House Republicans are considering if the Senate restores Obamacare funding to the House-passed budget bill that defunded the law.

Votes in the Senate are scheduled to begin Friday, with a group of Republican senators expected to fail in their effort to filibuster the House-passed budget that defunds Obamacare. This group will attempt to stop the law because Senate Democrats plan to restore funding for the health-care law and can do so with the votes of 51 of their 55 members (including two independents who caucus with Democrats) in support.

Update 2:19 p.m.: Manchin's office clarifies to Post Politics that Manchin will stick with Democrats and support restoring Obamacare funding to the budget.

Here's Manchin's official statement:

“I have always opposed the individual mandate, and I continue to have concerns with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the cost and choices West Virginians will have in the health care exchanges. That being said, I do not believe that this issue should be used to shut down the government, and I will not vote to shut down the government. We need to work together as Americans to solve these problems so we can get our economy back on track and create American jobs.”

Related: How eight lives would be affected by the health law

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Sean Sullivan | September 26, 2013