WHEELING - Sen. Joe Manchin opposes specific sections of the Affordable Care Act, but he doesn't believe Obamacare should be used as a political bargaining chip.
With the government shutdown entering its third day, Manchin, D-W.Va., said he is embarrassed by how "political posturing" is keeping Congress from addressing the country's needs.
"Under its present form, I would have found it hard to support. I'm very opposed to the individual mandates. ... I'm in the mode of reforming it where it needs to be reformed, repairing the parts that need repaired and repealing the parts that are unfixable. ... I truly believe that the enforcement of the penalties and fines - that should have been delayed for one year. I still believe it should have taken effect as the law, but should not have had any fines or penalties and there should have been a transitional year."
But that's not a reason for House Republicans to say "I'm going to shut down the government and inflict the pain on everyone," Manchin added.
"That is wrong. ... I don't think it's the place for any of us to jeopardize the operations of this government," he said. "It's frustrating. ... They have their reasons for doing what they're doing. I hope they are sincere in what they are doing. ... I just hope they will come to their senses."
To end the government shutdown, Manchin favors Congress passing a "clean" continuing resolution to fund the government that contains no amendments to defund Obamacare or push other issues.
The resolution would continue until Oct. 17.
"Hopefully, between now and Oct. 17, we can get adults at the table and have a bigger deal," Manchin said. "Until we take that seriously, you're going to hear about sequestering, temporary shutdowns and threats, and anything else (Republicans) can throw into the mix. It's totally wrong."
Manchin added he has never voted to raise the federal debt ceiling, and he said Democratic colleagues are warning him that a similar vote this time could send the U.S. economy into a "death spiral."
"I would hope it would not come down to me as to whether we (increase) the debt ceiling or not," he said. "Maybe I can get the grownups in the room to understand how severe our financial situation is, and start moving and proceeding in a very responsible manner to get our financial house in order. That's the only way I'm going to support raising the debt ceiling. ... I would hope my vote would be the one that moves us in the right direction. Wouldn't that be a powerful vote?"