Manchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports

Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSchumer steps on the gas to move Biden agenda Overnight Health Care — Biden touts drug price push Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (D-W.Va) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersStudy: Test detects signs of dementia at least six months earlier than standard method The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Omicron tests vaccines; Bob Dole dies at 98 Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away MORE (I-Vt.) got into argument on Wednesday during which the centrist West Virginia senator said he was willing to let go of all of President BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE's social spending plan, according to an Axios report that has been corroborated by multiple other senators who witnessed the spat.

Fellow Democratic Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Senators huddle on path forward for SALT deduction in spending bill MORE (Mont.) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBipartisan senators earmark billion to support democracies globally House passes bill to expedite financial disclosures from judges Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems seek to preserve climate provisions MORE (Del.), both of whom serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee and were both in the room when it happened, relayed details of the blowup to Axios.

According to Tester, Sanders said, "Joe said, 'I'm comfortable with nothing.' ... We need to do three-and-a-half [trillion dollars]."

ADVERTISEMENT

"The truth is both of them are in different spots," Tester said of his two colleagues.

Manchin apparently confirmed this saying, "I'm comfortable with zero," and forming a zero with his fingers, according to Tester. Tester told Axios that he believes Manchin when he says he is fine with none of Biden's multitrillion-dollar social spending plan being passed.

Coons described the verbal quarrel as a "vigorous, 10-minute discussion." According to Coons, Manchin said, "We shouldn't do it at all," when speaking of the social spending plan.

"This will contribute to inflation. We've already passed the American Rescue Plan. We should just pass the infrastructure bill and, you know, pause for six months," Manchin said, according to the Delaware senator.

The Hill has reached out to Sanders's and Manchin's offices for comment on the argument.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sanders and Manchin represent two vastly opposing sides of the Democratic Party, with the apparent divide being blamed for stalling bills considered key to Biden's agenda. The two senators, who are both members of Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE's (D-N.Y.) leadership team, have butted heads multiple times as negotiations on the spending bill continue.

Manchin has made his opposition to higher spending on social program well known, saying at the start of October that he would not support any reconciliation bill over $1.5 trillion.

Sanders has said that the recent $3.5 trillion price tag that was floated by Democrats is the "very least" that should be included in Biden's spending plan.

This argument occurred just days after the both senators posed for photos outside the Capitol in an apparent show of amicable progress on negotiations.

Manchin said on Thursday that it looked as though negotiators will miss the Friday deadline set by Schumer for a deal on the reconciliation bill to be reached, though he said "good progress" was being made.

“This is not going to happen anytime soon, guys,” he said. "There’s a lot of work to do, everybody’s working hard, everybody’s communicating, working hard. A lot of meetings going on."