Progressives hit Manchin after he calls for 'pause' on Biden's $3.5T plan

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Biden, Xi talk climate at UN forum Election reform in the states is not all doom and gloom Manchin presses Interior nominee on leasing program review MORE (D-W.Va.) faced swift criticism from progressives after he urged Democrats to “hit the pause button” on a $3.5 trillion spending package that would advance key parts of President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE’s legislative agenda. 

Manchin on Wednesday called on his colleagues to hold off on “rushing to spend trillions on new government programs” as the party drafts the forthcoming package, citing concerns about what he referred to as “runaway inflation,” the coronavirus delta variant and the recent withdrawal of the U.S. military in Afghanistan. 

The following day, the senator also warned his colleagues in a strongly worded opinion piece that he couldn’t support the $3.5 trillion price tag 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.”

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The remarks by Manchin, who has expressed concerns about the dollar amount in the past, drew ire from progressives who support the coming spending package, which Democratic leaders say will unlock funding for a number of party-backed priorities, including health care expansions, climate change efforts and immigration reform.

“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 JayapalPramila JayapalDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions House panel to examine states' abortion restrictions, hear from three congresswomen who've had abortions This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (D-Wash.), leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted shortly after reports of Manchin’s comments emerged on Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezFeehery: The confidence game Democrats face full legislative plate and rising tensions McCarthy on Dems' spending bill: 'The amount of money we spent to win World War II' MORE (D-N.Y.) knocked Manchin in a pair of tweets not long after.

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“Manchin has weekly huddles w/ Exxon & is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called ‘bipartisan’ fossil fuel bills. It’s killing people. Our people. At least 12 last night,” she wrote, referring to the death toll in New York City after the area was hit by remnants of Hurricane Ida this week. “Sick of this ‘bipartisan’ corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation.”

“Fossil fuel corps & dark money is destroying our democracy, country, & planet. All day our community has been pulling bodies out of homes from the flood. Entire families,” she continued. “And we’re supposed to entertain lobbyist talking points about why we should abandon people & do nothing? No.”

Her comments also come as scientists have linked climate-related factors such as warm ocean temperatures and increased sea level rise to Ida’s intensity.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) also shared photos of homes in his district that were hit this week, asking the senator, “How much destruction do we need to see before it’s worth investing in our climate?”

“Instead of writing op-eds, why don't you look into the faces of my residents who have had their basements flooded with sewage multiple times and their power out for days, Senator Manchin. We deserve better,” Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibProgressive foreign policy should not be pro-autocracy Democratic bill would force Fed to defund fossil fuels Democrats brace for battle on Biden's .5 trillion spending plan MORE (D-Mich.) tweeted.

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

The backlash comes as congressional Democrats have struggled to unite on a path forward on federal spending in recent weeks.

Democrats have been working to craft a $3.5 trillion spending package essential to Biden’s economic agenda and are expected to move on the legislation quickly using a process called reconciliation, which allows the party to pass the measure in the evenly split Senate without Republican support.

The House and Senate last month passed a resolution laying out the framework for the coming package. The upper chamber also advanced a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that still awaits consideration in the House.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions Louisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power MORE (D-Calif.) has held off bringing the scaled-down, physical infrastructure bill to a floor vote, despite pushback from moderates, as progressives have expressed concerns about how the larger package will fare with their more centrist colleagues if the physical infrastructure bill has already passed Congress.