Democrat Manchin Breaks Ranks to Back Health Mandate Delay

Photograph by Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speaks during an interview in Washington D.C., on Sept. 26, 2013.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke ranks with fellow Democrats and said he’d support a stopgap spending plan that delays the individual mandate in President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

“There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast today. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.”

The individual mandate is the linchpin of the law that requires most Americans to purchase health care through government-run insurance exchanges. Republicans, led by a group of newcomers in the House, are pushing to dismantle the health-care law and are using a ticking clock on a possible Oct. 1 government shutdown as leverage.

The Democratic-led Senate will vote in coming days on the stopgap spending plan and before sending it back to the House will remove language that defunds Obamacare. Obama and House Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, have said they won’t support using the budget to change the health law.

Manchin, 66, said he’d be willing to delay the individual mandate as part of the budget negotiations because the Obama administration in July gave businesses an extra year to provide their workers with health insurance.

“Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now,” Manchin said. “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?”

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