Schumer rejects Manchin's call for pause on Biden plan

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) is rejecting a call for Democrats to hit pause on President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE's spending plan, indicating that they are sticking to an ambitious timeline.

"We're moving full-speed ahead. ... We want to keep going forward. We think getting this done is so important," Schumer told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday.

Schumer's remarks come after moderate Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE (D-W.Va.) urged his colleagues to hit "pause" on Biden's $3.5 trillion plan, which is at the heart of Democrats' economic and legislative agenda.

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Manchin, during a West Virginia Chamber of Commerce event and separate Wall Street Journal op-ed, said Democrats should slow down, pointing to concerns about the debt and inflation as well as unrelated issues including the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

"Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation. A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not," Manchin wrote in the op-ed.

But congressional Democratic leaders have laid an ambitious timeline to get Biden's spending bill to his desk. Schumer has set a Sept. 15 deadline for roughly a dozen congressional committees to be finished drafting their portions of the $3.5 trillion bill.

House Democrats are also expected to take up the Senate-passed $1 trillion bill by Sept. 27, under a deal crafted by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Jan. 6 committee taps former Bush administration official as top lawyer Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan MORE (D-Calif.) and key moderates. But because progressives are warning they won't support the Senate bill without the reconciliation package also going to the floor, it puts pressure on Democrats to also have the $3.5 trillion plan also ready for a vote.

Schumer stuck by that timeline during Wednesday's call, telling reporters: "We are moving forward on this bill."

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In order to get the bill through the Senate, Schumer will need total unity from all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, giving Manchin leverage to make demands for changes to the party's strategy.

Manchin didn't specify how long he thinks his party should hit "pause." But he's also taken issue with the $3.5 trillion top-line figure.

Manchin has said he can't support the price tag, and Axios reported on Tuesday that the highest he's willing to go is $1.5 trillion.

A spokeswoman for Manchin didn't immediately return a request for comment about the discussions. Earlier this year, Manchin indicated that he was open to a figure of between $1 trillion to $2 trillion.

But any push to go lower than $3.5 trillion would spark fierce angst among progressives.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE (I-Vt.), the Senate Budget Committee chairman, on Wednesday indicated that the bill had to be at least $3.5 trillion.

"That $3.5 trillion is already the result of a major, major compromise," Sanders told reporters.