Clyburn: ‘You may not need $3.5 trillion to do what the president wants done’

Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)
Greg Nash

House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said late Wednesday that $3.5 trillion may not be needed to achieve President Biden’s priorities, as Democrats continue to debate the price tag of their reconciliation spending plan.

“I think that there is a lot of room for people to sit down and negotiate. It may be, when you’re sitting around the table, you may not need 3.5 trillion to do what the president wants done and what the current country needs done,” Clyburn told guest host Jim Acosta on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

Clyburn’s comments come as Democrats have been engaged in an internal battle regarding the price tag of their sweeping reconciliation spending package, which includes a number of education, health care and climate change priorities.

Senate Democrats agreed last month on a $3.5 trillion price tag for the package, but some moderate members are now saying that figure is too high.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is warning the White House and congressional leaders that he will only support a package that has a $1 trillion price tag, or at most $1.5 trillion, Axios reported, setting the stage for a precarious situation in the upper chamber.

Democrats are planning to pass the spending package through reconciliation, allowing the party to dodge a Republican filibuster and approve the bill with a simple majority. That strategy, however, requires that all Democrats stay together in the evenly split Senate.

Clyburn during the CNN interview weighed in on Manchin’s reported opposition to the $3.5 trillion price tag.

“I think what has happened here is that the communication around this Build Back Better plan, which has a ceiling of 3.5 trillion — is just that, a ceiling. No one has ever said that’s an exact number or that’s a floor. It’s up to 3.5 trillion. Now, I see that Joe Manchin has mentioned a $1.5 trillion number. So, somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5, there is $2 trillion. Those $2 trillion are there,” he said.

Manchin, in addition to calling for a lower price tag, has also urged his Senate colleagues to “pause” deliberations on the package.

Both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), however, have dismissed the senator’s recommendation.

Tags Build Back Better plan Chuck Schumer Jim Acosta Joe Biden Joe Manchin Nancy Pelosi reconciliation package

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