Manchin floats breaking up Biden’s infrastructure proposal

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Friday that Congress should focus on “conventional” infrastructure and floated breaking up President Biden’s sweeping plan.

Manchin, speaking at a press conference with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), said the administration and Congress should take Biden’s plan “step by step” and focus first on areas that could get bipartisan support like water, roads, bridges and the internet.

“What we think the greatest need we have now, that can be done in a bipartisan way, is conventional infrastructure whether it’s the water, sewer, roads, bridges, Internet — things that we know need to be repaired, be fixed,” Manchin said.

“Why don’t you take the greatest need that we have and do it on something that we all agree on?” Manchin added.

Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal includes money for roads and bridges, broadband, rail and water systems but also includes funding for in-home care, housing, clean energy, public schools and manufacturing.

Manchin, who referred to the proposal as a “conceptual plan,” broke it down between “conventional” and “human” infrastructure, and argued that the former could get bipartisan support.

“The other things that are conceptional, we can work on piece by piece, committee by committee,” adding that a bipartisan bill on “conventional” infrastructure was “doable.”

Manchin, the most conservative member of the Senate Democratic caucus, is a key vote in the 50-50 Senate.

He previously helped sink Neera Tanden’s Office of Management and Budget nomination, is helping lead a bipartisan group of 20 senators looking for potential deals and kept the Democrats’ coronavirus package in limbo for hours as he secured additional changes to the unemployment language.

Manchin isn’t the only Democrat who has suggested breaking up the White House plan. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally, has floated peeling off what could get bipartisan support into one bill and then passing what can’t in another package under reconciliation, which allows Democrats to bypass the filibuster.

A group of Republicans unveiled a $568 billion counteroffer to Biden’s plan Thursday that would focus more narrowly on roads and bridges, public transit systems, rail, wastewater infrastructure, airports and broadband infrastructure.

The White House welcomed the proposal, calling it as a starting point of a discussion. But it sparked division among Senate Democrats, with several dismissing it as too small to be a serious offer.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called it “totally inadequate.”

Tags Bernie Sanders Chris Coons Coronavirus Filibuster Infrastructure Joe Biden Joe Manchin Minimum wage Neera Tanden Unemployment

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