"I admire Sen. Manchin," McConnell said. "He's in a really challenging position in a party that is dominated by East Coast elitism views of what America ought to look like. I pull for him every day, I pray for him every night."
McConnell, who represents neighboring Kentucky, met alone with Manchin on Tuesday to talk about the Senate plan, especially energy policy, which plays a crucial part in the Build Back Better bill.
Manchin is against anti-fossil fuel requirements in the legislation, including a methane fee met by the natural gas industry.
Manchin told reporters following the 40-minute meeting that the two legislators "talked a lot about the area we represent, Kentucky and West Virginia, on some issues we all agree on. Energy is one of them."
The intention would prompt a wide array of government programs and subsidies, none of them followed by a work demand. Tax hikes would help pay for the legislation, but some of it would add to the inflation.
Republicans say the bill is economically thoughtless and would discourage work and raise energy costs while aggravating already-high inflation. It would cost $5 trillion rather than the hundreds of billions it would cost, according to the official score, Republicans said.
Senate Democrats intend to enact the measure using a budgetary tactic that averts the GOP filibuster. To do so, they'll need all 50 Democrats, plus Vice President Kamala Harris, to overcome the majority.
Manchin has not yet pledged to vote for the legislation. He's concerned it will drive up inflation, raise energy costs, and discourage work.
McConnell said he and Manchin had "a great discussion" on Tuesday and represented similar concerns.
"I enjoy Joe's company," McConnell said. "And we both view part of our responsibility to look after what most people refer to as flyover country. And there's no question that today's Democratic Party in Washington is oriented toward the high population, coastal areas of the country. "
Manchin also met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, to address his concerns about the energy provision in the bill. Schumer said he wants to pass the bill by the end of the year and projected that every Democrat, including Manchin, will vote for it.