The spotlight in Washington this week was shining in large part on moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as his opposition to his party’s $3.5 trillion spending plan targeting “human infrastructure” was helping to hold up a vote on a separate, $1 trillion bill aimed at traditional infrastructure. Manchin reiterated on Thursday that the maximum amount that he’s willing to put toward the larger bill is $1.5 trillion, and he offered the following solution to his Democratic colleagues who want bigger outlays:
“‘I guess for them to get theirs, elect more liberals.’”
— Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia
The veteran politician, who previously served as West Virginia’s governor and in other elected offices, said he’s “never been a liberal in any way, shape or form,” adding that he’s “voted pretty consistently all my whole life.” “I don’t fault any of them who believe that they’re much more progressive and much more liberal. God bless ’em,” he added. From the archives (Sept. 12): Manchin won’t support Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget plan, wants it cut by more than half Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Thursday called off a planned vote in the House on the bill, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as Democratic lawmakers remained unable to agree on their spending proposals. Progressive House Democrats had promised to block the infrastructure bill, already passed by the Senate, unless the party’s $3.5 trillion package moves ahead in tandem. But Manchin and another moderate Democratic senator, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, opposed the larger measure’s price tag, with the West Virginia lawmaker describing it as “fiscal insanity” in a statement on Wednesday. Manchin has argued that any revenue from the larger package that exceeds $1.5 trillion should go toward reducing the U.S. deficit, according to a Politico article on Thursday, citing a document that he reportedly has been distributing among colleagues. The document also spells out other stances taken by Manchin that previously have been reported, such as his proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 25% and his view that the Federal Reserve should pull back on certain stimulus measures.
Sinema’s office said in a statement on Thursday that she “said publicly more than two months ago, before Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, that she would not support a bill costing $3.5 trillion.” The statement also said she has “shared detailed concerns and priorities, including dollar figures” with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the White House, and she “continues to engage directly in good-faith discussions with both President Biden and Senator Schumer to find common ground.” Democrats need the votes of Manchin and Sinema to advance their $3.5 trillion package through a process known as budget reconciliation because the Senate is split 50-50, with the party in control only because Vice President Kamala Harris can break ties. U.S. stocks
were losing ground Friday. They closed lower Thursday, leaving the S&P 500
down by nearly 5% for the month of September.