Manchin suggests pausing talks on $3.5 trillion package until 2022: report

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has suggested pausing discussions on a $3.5 trillion spending package until 2022 as the House gets ready to vote on a bipartisan deal next week, Axios reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Manchin has publicly suggested a “strategic pause” in talks over the legislation, but hadn’t suggested a specific timeline. 

Manchin suggested pausing until next year while talking with workers in Martinsburg, West Virginia last week, and has made similar comments in private, Axios reported. 

The Hill has reached out to Manchin’s office for comment.

Earlier this month, Manchin said he wanted to press “pause” on the legislation filled with Democrat priorities, both while speaking at a West Virginia Chamber of Commerce event and in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal.

“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.

“I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs,” Manchin later added.  

Those comments upset some Democrats, who argued that Congress did not have time to pause on passing a deal that is slated to passed alongside the bipartisan infrastructure.

“Pause on finally delivering child care, paid leave, education, health care, affordable housing, climate action, and dental, vision, and hearing to millions of families across America? Absolutely not,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) tweeted earlier this month.

However, Manchin did not appear to budge from his position, including his desire to slow the timeline in which Democrats plan to vote on and pass the bill.

“There’s no way we can get this done by the 27th if we do our job,” Manchin said to CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” last week.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reiterated on Sunday in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Democrats had already negotiated the price tag and he was not prepared to go any lower.

“Right now we got 50, we got 50 votes. We’re going to have to work it out, as we did with the American Rescue Plan. But I have already made, and my colleagues have made a major compromise, going from six trillion down to three and a half trillion,” Sanders said.

Tags Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders Dana Bash infrastructure bill Joe Manchin Joe Manchin Pramila Jayapal
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