In a break with many congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday he would back a one-year delay of the individual mandate in the stopgap spending bill.
"There’s no way I could not vote for it,” he said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast. “It’s very reasonable and sensible." The current continuing resolution ends at the end of the month.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that delaying the mandate would result in 11 million fewer people having health insurance. President Barack Obama and other congressional Democrats are extremely unlikely to go along with a delay in the current spending battle.
Manchin's position could give momentum to adding the provision, as Manchin lends nominal Democratic support to the idea. However, adding the measure to the stopgap spending bill appeared less likely, as House Republicans are expected to include it in a bill to raise the debt ceiling.
The individual mandate takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, and open enrollment for exchanges begins Oct. 1.
UPDATE: 2:18 p.m. -- Manchin released a statement Thursday walking back his earlier comments, saying that while he opposed the individual mandate, it should not be used to "shut down the government."
"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," he said. "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."
UPDATE: 12:58 p.m. -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said later Thursday that Manchin relayed to him that he would vote with Democrats against a one-year Obamacare delay in the continuing resolution, even though Manchin supports it.
Chuck Schumer says Manchin told him that even though he supports a one-year delay of Obamacare indiv mandate, he'll still vote w/ Dems on CR— Chris Moody (@Chris_Moody) September 26, 2013
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President Franklin D. Roosevelt favors creating national health insurance amid the Great Depression but decides to push for Social Security first. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Roosevelt establishes wage and price controls during World War II. Businesses can't attract workers with higher pay so they compete through added benefits, including health insurance, which grows into a workplace perk. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
President Harry Truman calls on Congress to create a national insurance program for those who pay voluntary fees. The American Medical Association denounces the idea as "socialized medicine" and it goes nowhere. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
John F. Kennedy makes health care a major campaign issue but as president can't get a plan for the elderly through Congress. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
President Lyndon B. Johnson's legendary arm-twisting and a Congress dominated by his fellow Democrats lead to creation of two landmark government health programs: Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
President Richard Nixon wants to require employers to cover their workers and create federal subsidies to help everyone else buy private insurance. The Watergate scandal intervenes. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
President Jimmy Carter pushes a mandatory national health plan, but economic recession helps push it aside. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
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President Bill Clinton puts first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in charge of developing what becomes a 1,300-page plan for universal coverage. It requires businesses to cover their workers and mandates that everyone have health insurance. The plan meets Republican opposition, divides Democrats and comes under a firestorm of lobbying from businesses and the health care industry. It dies in the Senate. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Clinton signs bipartisan legislation creating a state-federal program to provide coverage for millions of children in families of modest means whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid. (JAMAL A. WILSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George W. Bush persuades Congress to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare in a major expansion of the program for older people. (STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton promotes a sweeping health care plan in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. She loses to Obama, who has a less comprehensive plan. (PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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With no Republican support, Congress passes the measure, designed to extend health care coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people. Republican opponents scorned the law as "Obamacare." (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
On a campaign tour in the Midwest, Obama himself embraces the term "Obamacare" and says the law shows "I do care." (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)