Manchin says he won't be pressured into reconciliation vote
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Monday he won't be pressured into supporting a $1.75 trillion expansion of the nation's social safety net and urged House progressives to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in the interim.
Why it matters: Manchin's declarations — and the unusually strong language he used in making them — show Democrats are no closer to passing the two bills that House leaders had hoped to move this week, and President Biden has said will define his presidency.
- "Holding this [infrastructure] bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill," Manchin said.
- "As more of the real details of the basic framework [for the reconciliation bill] are released, what I see are shell games — budget gimmicks that make the real cost of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be almost twice that amount ... if you extended it permanently."
- "While I've worked hard to find a path to compromise, it's obvious compromise is not good enough for a lot of my colleagues in Congress. It's all or nothing, and their position doesn't seem to change unless we agree to everything."
Manchin addressed reporters in a Senate briefing room as lawmakers returned to Washington after last week's frenzied activity surrounding both bills.
- House progressives fear Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) will gut the reconciliation bill.
- They've vowed to withhold their pivotal bloc of votes for the infrastructure bill unless senators either first pass the safety-net bill or give public commitments they'll do so.
In his remarks, Manchin said he has concerns about the bigger bill's effect on inflation and increasing the federal debt, so he wants more time to study its specifics and determine their precise cost.
- "It's time our elected leaders in Washington — all of us — stop playing games with the needs of the American people and holding a critical infrastructure bill hostage."
- "I'm open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward, but I'm equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country."
In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the House plan "is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care and housing."
"Experts agree: 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists have said it will reduce inflation. As a result, we remain confident that the plan will gain Sen. Manchin’s support," she added.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional comments from Sen. Manchin and press secretary Jen Psaki.