McConnell ups pressure on Manchin, Sinema: They could sink spending plan

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is upping pressure on Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to scuttle President Biden’s social and climate spending bill.

McConnell, during an interview with Kentucky radio station WKYX, argued that Democrats should have “dropped the whole thing,” referencing the bill, after last week’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey. 

“If the Democrats in the Senate, all 50 of them, fall in line, they can pass it. If any one of them isn’t there in a 50-50 Senate, it will be defeated,” McConnell said.

“The two Senate Democrats who are resisting—Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona—we’ll see how strong they are. They could kill the whole thing, either one of them,” McConnell added.

Because Democrats are trying to pass the spending bill using budget rules that let them bypass a GOP filibuster, they need total unity from their Senate caucus to pass the legislation.

Manchin and Sinema have raised concerns for months over aspects of the bill, including a $3.5 trillion top line figure that Democrats greenlighted earlier this year.

Beyond shrinking the overall size of the bill, the White House and Democrats have made changes throughout in response to the moderate pair, including changes on taxes, climate and expanding Medicare.

Republicans view Manchin and Sinema as their best shot at getting changes into the bill — through a chaotic process known as a vote-a-rama, where Republicans could get proposals into the legislation if they can peel off one Democrat — or to scuttle the bill altogether.

Manchin, during a press conference and several TV interviews last week, has made clear that he’s not yet ready to support the spending bill, which could get a vote in the House as soon as next week.

“I have a lot of concerns, let’s put it that way,” Manchin said during an interview with Fox News last week. “They’re working off the House bill. That’s not going to be the bill I work off of.”

McConnell’s comments are the latest example of him calling out Manchin and Sinema as crucial to the success, or failure, of Democrats’ attempt to pass the sweeping spending bill, which every Republican is expected to oppose.

“I think we all know there are two Democratic senators that are going to be able to write this bill. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will determine what the bill looks like,” McConnell told reporters at a press conference last week.

But his latest comments come as Manchin sent up another warning flare to his party on Wednesday after U.S. inflation hit a 30-year high. 

Manchin, in a statement, said that the “the threat” from inflation isn’t temporary “and is instead getting worse.”

“From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and DC can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day,” Manchin added.

Manchin has warned for weeks that he’s worried the spending bill could negatively impact inflation, though top Democrats and the White House have argued it will help tamp it down.

The consumer price index, which tracks inflation for a range of staple goods and services, rose 0.9 percent last month and 6.2 percent in the 12-month period ending in October, the highest rate in the U.S. in 30 years.

McConnell, asked about the new data, called the Biden administration “a mess.”

“I think it’s totally misreading the mood of the American people,” McConnell added.

Several polls have found that pieces of the Democratic plan are broadly popular, though Americans have also said they are unfamiliar with the details of the still-being-negotiated legislation.

Tags Build Back Better bill human infrastructure Inflation Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema legislative filibuster Mitch McConnell Reconciliation

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