Joe Manchin moves to pass COVID relief without Republicans: 'I will vote to move forward'
Senator Joe Manchin (D_WV), DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Tuesday signaled that Democrats may be ready to pass a COVID-19 relief bill without the support of Republicans.

"I will vote to move forward with the budget process because we must address the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis," Manchin said in a statement. "But let me be clear -- and these are words I shared with President Biden -- our focus must be targeted on the COVID-19 crisis and Americans who have been most impacted by the pandemic."

"I will only support proposals that will get us through and end the pain of the pandemic," he added. "For the sake of the country, we must work together with laser focus to defeat the COVID-19 crisis, support our neighbors and communities who continue to suffer and get back to a more normal life as quickly as possible."

Manchin's support paves the way for Democrats to bypass the Senate filibuster by using a process known as reconciliation, which would require a simple majority. The bill is expected to include $1,400 in payments to individual Americans as well as other relief measures.

The senator also said on Tuesday that he opposes a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, but he suggested that an $11 per hour wage would be appropriate for West Virginia.

It is unclear whether a minimum wage increase can be included in a COVID-19 relief bill under the rules of reconciliation.