Manchin says he’s on board with Democratic-only infrastructure bill

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Tuesday that he’s supportive of going forward with a larger, Democratic-only infrastructure bill but that it shouldn’t be linked to a separate bipartisan framework. 

Manchin, during an interview with MSNBC, said that he had been assuming since “day one” that Democrats would have to use reconciliation, a budget process that allows them to bypass a 60-vote legislative filibuster, to pass a larger infrastructure bill because Republicans don’t want to make changes to the 2017 tax bill.

“We’re going to have to work it through reconciliation, which I’ve agreed that that can be done. I just haven’t agreed on the amount, because I haven’t seen everything that everyone is wanting to put in the bill,” Manchin said on MSNBC. 

Manchin added that the Senate can “go through the process” on putting together a larger package that includes so-called human infrastructure knowing that Democrats will “probably have to go to reconciliation and then do what we can afford to do.”  

Manchin’s comments come after he told reporters late last week that he viewed a Democratic-only reconciliation bill as “inevitable,” handing a significant boost to Democrats’ strategy. 

Democrats are still in the early stages of trying to figure out how big to go in a Democratic-only infrastructure bill. But they have no room for error in the Senate, where they need all 50 of their members and Vice President Harris to pass an infrastructure bill under reconciliation.

And Manchin has long been viewed as the biggest hold out on greenlighting a Democratic-only bill.  

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed going as high as $6 trillion, but that figure has garnered pushback from other Senate Democrats, including Manchin, who believe it is too high. Budget Committee Democrats are expected to talk this week to try to hash out more details of the budget resolution that lays out the instructions for the Democratic-only bill.  

Manchin is also part of a bipartisan group that has negotiated a smaller plan of roughly $1.2 trillion over eight years, a bill that focuses more on traditional infrastructure including roads, bridges and broadband.  

The bipartisan plan was thrown into limbo late last week after President Biden suggested he wouldn’t sign the agreement if it didn’t come to his desk with the larger Democratic-only bill. Biden walked back that statement over the weekend, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has warned that the House won’t take up the Senate bipartisan deal until they also pass the Democratic-only bill.  

Manchin, during the MSNBC interview on Tuesday, argued that the two bills shouldn’t be linked, urging that Democrats should “take the win” on the bipartisan agreement. 

“Saying I’m going to not vote for the other one because you haven’t guaranteed the vote for everything, we’ve never done legislation that way, I’ve never been a part of it in 10 years I’ve been in the Senate,” Manchin said, adding that the bipartisan bill was “doable” and that Democrats should “take that victory.” 

Tags Bernie Sanders bipartisan framework Infrastructure Joe Biden Joe Manchin Nancy Pelosi Reconciliation

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