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Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) told the Washington Post Friday that he would "absolutely not" support passing a round of $2,000 stimulus checks as a first priority, a key component of President-elect Joe Biden's economic revival plans.

The latest: A spokesperson clarified Manchin's comments after the Post story published Friday, saying the senator is not drawing a red line against $2,000 checks — only that it should be the first priority, as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has stated.

Why it matters: Senators-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock's victories in Georgia's runoff elections on Tuesday clinched a narrow 50-50 majority for Democrats in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Harris acting as a tiebreaker. Moderate senators like Manchin will serve as the chamber's new power center on close votes.

  • Manchin was the only Democratic senator to vote yes on confirming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
  • The West Virginian has also voted with Trump more than any other Democrat in the Senate, the New York Times notes.

What they're saying: “Absolutely not. No. Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1,” Manchin told the Post when asked if he would support $2,000 checks as the new Senate's first priority.

  • “How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check."

The big picture: The House passed a measure to boost stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person in December, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked it from receiving a vote in the Senate.

Yes, but: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has been championing the push alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to increase the size of stimulus checks, an effort also endorsed by President Trump. Republican support could give the measure the majority it needs to pass the Senate.

Go deeper: Schumer says first priority in new Senate is $2,000 stimulus checks

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a spokesperson's clarification.

Go deeper

Scoop: Conservative group puts $700k behind Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley explains his objection to certifying the 2020 election results hours after the U.S. Capitol siege. Photo: Congress.gov via Getty Images

A Republican group is raising and spending huge amounts of money defending Sen. Josh Hawley after he was ostracized for early January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: The Senate Conservatives Fund is plugging Hawley's ideological bona fides and backfilling lost corporate cash with needed political and financial support, helping inoculate him as he weighs reelection or a possible presidential campaign in 2024.

Heat wave grips U.S. this week from coast to coast

Computer model projection from the GFS model showing an unusually hot airmass across the western and Central U.S. on Thursday, June 29, 2021. (Weatherbell.com)

A widespread heat wave has begun across the contiguous U.S., with at least 30 million people likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100°F by the end of the week.

Why it matters: The hot weather, which comes courtesy of another heat dome building across the Southwest, Rockies and then sliding into the western Plains, will only aggravate drought conditions and worsen many of the western wildfires.

VA first federal agency to require COVID vaccines for employees

A medical doctor gives the thumbs-up sign to a COVID-19 patient who is no longer using a respirator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York City. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday it would require its frontline health care workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus within the next two months, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The VA is the first federal agency to mandate that employees receive the vaccine. The decision comes as cases of the Delta variant in the U.S. have increased dramatically.