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Manchin on infrastructure: 'We're gonna find a bipartisan pathway forward'

Manchin on infrastructure: 'We're gonna find a bipartisan pathway forward'
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Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinWhy the Democrats need Joe Manchin Simmering Democratic tensions show signs of boiling over Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives MORE (D-W.Va.) on Thursday expressed optimism about reaching a compromise between both parties on an infrastructure package, telling reporters “we’re gonna find a bipartisan pathway forward.”

Manchin, one of the Democratic caucus’s most conservative members who has emerged as a key vote on their top legislative priorities, met with President Biden on Monday to discuss the administration’s multitrillion-dollar spending package, which includes a $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan and a $1.8 trillion plan for families.

The meeting with Biden was "great," Manchin told reporters on Thursday, adding they have “good negotiations going on.”

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He said his West Virginia colleague, Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale In Europe, Biden seeks to reassert U.S. climate leadership Antsy Democrats warn of infrastructure time crunch MORE (R), was meeting with Republicans that same day, which contributed to his optimism in reaching a bipartisan deal.

“It was great. We had, the president and I had a very, very good meeting and we have good negotiations going on. I know that Sen. Capito is with her Republican colleagues, they’re meeting today. Her and I have been talking. So, we’re gonna find a bipartisan pathway forward, we have to,” Manchin said.

When asked about a potential “sticking point,” Manchin pointed to the size of the package while maintaining that "we're gonna pay for it."

“It’s not really a sticking point, there’s some people who says ‘oh this is too big’ or ‘that’s too much.’ Don’t worry about — we’ll find, we’re gonna pay for it,” Manchin said. 

“But we gotta find out what the needs are. And we’re talking over eight years, so when you hear these big numbers it’s not just one year, OK. It’s an eight-year program. And we have to accelerate our permitting process to get things done,” he added.

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Manchin previously floated the idea of breaking up the spending package into smaller components, first focusing on “core” infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rail and broadband in an effort to attract enough votes to defeat a filibuster.

He has also expressed general concerns with the price tag of Biden’s agenda. The president proposed paying for the infrastructure package by raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, a hike that Manchin said is too high. The senator previously indicated he would support increasing the corporate rate to 25 percent.

Manchin said he spoke with Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerOmar feuds with Jewish Democrats House moderates unveil .25T infrastructure plan Democrats debate shape of new Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-N.J.), a co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, earlier that day. He told reporters “we’re working with everybody.”

The West Virginia senator said after meeting Biden on Monday that the two discussed the prospect of breaking the spending package into multiple components, but added that Biden did “not really” express a preference on a path forward.

"He just wants to get things accomplished. Gang I'm telling you, in his heart of hearts, he's all about let's be fair and move this country forward," Manchin said earlier this week.

With a 50-50 split in the Senate, Manchin has emerged as a key vote for Democrats in passing legislation through reconciliation, a budget process that allows them to avoid the 60-vote filibuster.

Through reconciliation, Democrats can pass legislation through a simple majority, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.