Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz told CNBC that he phones Sen. Joe Manchin weekly.
Peltz says he offers Manchin encouragement as the senator seeks to whittle down Biden’s climate and social bill.
Progressives say Manchin is in the pocket of big money donors, a claim he denies.
Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz told CNBC that he speaks to Sen. Joe Manchin weekly and offers him encouragement as the Democratic centrist seeks to whittle down President Joe Biden’s sweeping social care and climate change reconciliation bill.
Peltz, in an interview Wednesday on CNBC’s Halftime Report, praised the West Virginia senator for “keeping our elected officials somewhere in the middle.”
“Joe is the most important guy in DC. Maybe the most important guy in America today,” said Peltz, who added that he and Manchin have been friends for 10 years. “I call him every week and say, ‘Joe, you’re doing great. Stay tough. Stay tough, buddy.’ He’s phenomenal,” said Peltz.
Manchin and fellow Democratic centrist Sen. Krysten Sinema of Arizona have objected to the scale and expense of Biden’s proposed domestic spending program.
Biden had originally sought a $3.5 trillion bill, which would be passed using a mechanism called budget reconciliation requiring the support of all 50 Democratic senators.
But Manchin and Sinema’s objections mean the bill has been significantly reduced, with a package around $1.5 trillion currently being discussed.
The opposition has enraged progressives, some of whom have accused Manchin of being in the pocket of wealthy donors and lobbyists, including energy industry billionaires who usually donate to Republican candidates.
In a CNN interview in September Manchin denied claims by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez that he meets weekly with energy industry lobbyists, and said his objections to the larger reconciliation bill were based on concerns about inflation and government debt.
Peltz, the founder of Trian Partners, was formerly a supporter of Donald Trump, hosting a fundraiser for the former president at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, in February 2020, where according to CNN tickets cost half a million dollars per couple.
However he withdrew his support for Trump after the January 6 riot.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Manchin is one of the many Democratic and Republican lawmakers to whom Peltz has donated money.
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