Manchin isn’t ready to support Democrats passing infrastructure on their own

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that he doesn’t yet support Democrats trying to go it alone to pass an infrastructure package, even as a growing number of his colleagues are running out of patience. 

Manchin, during separate interviews in West Virginia with NBC and CNN, made it clear that he wants talks between the White House and Republicans, led by fellow West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), to keep going. 

“We need to do something in a bipartisan way. … We’re not going to get everything but we can move forward,” Manchin told CNN. “These take time. I know everyone is in a hurry right now. … We’ve got to work together and that takes a lot of time and energy and patience.” 

Asked during a separate interview with NBC News if Democrats should try to pass an infrastructure package on their own, Manchin added, “I don’t think we should. I really don’t.” 

Manchin’s comments come as many of his Senate Democratic colleagues are ready for the White House to walk away from the talks with Capito, as the two sides remain far apart on the price tag for a potential agreement and how to pay for it.  

“Best case: shrunk infrastructure bill w no serious climate stuff; Rs get bipartisan cred. Worst case: delay for nothing. Either way: climate to the curb,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tweeted this week about a story on Capito and President Biden’s latest meeting. 

Biden and Capito are expected to talk again on Friday, though some administration officials have suggested they could cut off talks as soon as next week.  

Democrats have long acknowledged that they are likely to have to pass an infrastructure package without GOP support, something they can do under a budget process known as reconciliation.  

But they need total unity in the Senate to use the fast-track process — something that cannot be achieved in a 50-50 Senate without Manchin. 

Manchin told CNN that Capito was expected to give an update to a key group of moderate-minded senators, known as the G-20, next week. The group, he added, would look for ways they could “assist and help” the White House reach a deal on infrastructure with Republicans. 

The White House initially viewed Memorial Day as a self-imposed deadline for the talks with the GOP, but have signaled they are willing to stretch it into early June. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pointed to July as a time frame for Democrats to advance an infrastructure package.  

To do this, they would first need total unity from their caucus, and Vice President Harris, to pass a budget resolution that green-lights bypassing the filibuster on the infrastructure bill. They would then need to pass the subsequent infrastructure package, a herculean task that would require getting every Democratic senator on board. 

Manchin, the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus, has found himself in the middle of several fights already this year, including helping sink Neera Tanden’s Office of Management and Budget nomination, opposing the $15 per hour minimum wage and repeatedly doubling down on his opposition to getting rid of the 60-vote legislative filibuster. 

Biden, during an event in Tulsa this week, made remarks that were widely viewed as criticism of Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who also opposes gutting the filibuster. 

“I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?'” he said Tuesday. “Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki characterized Biden as riffing on TV pundits rather than criticizing two members of his own party, who he needs to get his agenda through the Senate. 

And Manchin, asked about the comments by CNN, brushed them off. 

“I spoke to the White House. I think that was totally out of context,” he said. 

Tags Biden infrastructure plan budget reconciliation Charles Schumer infrastructure bill Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema moderate Democrats Neera Tanden Sheldon Whitehouse Shelley Moore Capito
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