Manchin would support spending plan of at most $1.5T: report
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has reportedly told the White House and congressional leaders that he would be open to supporting at most $1.5 trillion of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending package.
Axios reported late Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the discussions, that the moderate senator would support as little as $1 trillion for the proposal containing key elements of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
Democrats are hoping to pass the package through reconciliation, a process that allows the 50-50 Senate to move the bill forward with a simple majority and bypass a Republican filibuster.
Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Hill has reached out to the White House and the office of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The West Virginia senator has publicly voiced concerns about the price tag for the package, and Axios reported he has also expressed concerns on specific policy proposals, such as a plan to spend $400 billion for home caregivers.
The centrist senator would provide a deciding vote in the Senate, and his concerns over the proposal could present an obstacle to the passage of the legislation, which includes several Democratic priorities such as expanding Medicaid, combating climate change and implementing immigration reforms.
Biden earlier Tuesday voiced optimism about the package, telling reporters, “Joe at the end has always been there.”
“He’s always been with me,” Biden said. “I think we can work something out. I look forward to speaking with him.”
Manchin attracted pushback from Democratic leaders after he argued last week that lawmakers should “hit the pause button” on the $3.5 trillion proposal.
During remarks at a West Virginia Chamber of Commerce event, Manchin said he had concerns about “runaway inflation” amid surges in the delta variant of the coronavirus across the country, as well as the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Let’s sit back. Let’s see what happens,” he said at the time. “We have so much on our plate. We really have an awful lot. I think that would be the prudent, wise thing to do.”
Fellow Democratic lawmakers hit back at Manchin’s rationale, with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) saying in a New York Times interview over the weekend that Democrats could not afford to “slow it down.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also dismissed Manchin’s remarks, telling reporters Tuesday, “Well, obviously I don’t agree.”
“I’m pretty excited about where we are. Everybody’s working very hard, the committees are doing their work. We’re on a good timetable, and I feel very exhilarated by it,” she said.