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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued a statement on Wednesday saying he has "serious concerns" about the size of Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, calling it "simply irresponsible" to continue spending at such high levels.

The latest: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to Manchin's concerns at a press conference on Tuesday, saying: "Look, there are some in my caucus who might believe it’s too much, there are some in my caucus who believe it’s too little."

  • "I can tell you this on reconciliation: One, we are going to all come together to get something done. And two, we’ll have every part of the Biden plan in a big, bold, robust way."

Why it matters: Senate Democrats cannot lose a single vote in order to pass President Biden's sweeping economic plan via reconciliation, a process that only requires 50 votes rather than the usual 60 to overcome a filibuster.

  • Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), another Democratic moderate, both voted to open debate on the budget resolution early Wednesday morning. But both have signaled doubts about the size of the package.
  • Moderates in the House, where Democrats have a majority of just three votes, have also expressed serious concerns — setting up a high-stakes clash with progressives who have no interest in paring down the size of the bill.

What he's saying: "Over the past year, Congress has injected more than $5 trillion of stimulus into the American economy – more than any time since World War II – to respond to the pandemic," Manchin said.

  • "Adding trillions of dollars more to nearly $29 trillion of national debt, without any consideration of the negative effects on our children and grandchildren, is one of those decisions that has become far too easy in Washington," he continued.
  • "Given the current state of the economic recovery, it is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or Great Recession – not an economy that is on the verge of overheating."
  • "I firmly believe that continuing to spend at irresponsible levels puts at risk our nation’s ability to respond to the unforeseen crises our country could face. I urge my colleagues to seriously consider this reality as this budget process unfolds in the coming weeks and months."

What to watch: Schumer said that Senate committee chairs will work intensely over the next few weeks with the goal of having a reconciliation bill — presumably one that satisfies the concerns of both moderates and progressives — completed by Sept. 15.

Go deeper

Nov 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Sinema hits Dem leaders over honesty, false promises

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) leaves the Capitol for the day in October. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) criticized Democratic leadership in a wide-ranging interview with Politico published Wednesday for making false promises by setting expectations for the social spending bill and other legislation far too high.

Why it matters: Sinema said that the pledges amount to dishonesty with Americans because they are made with the presumption of agreement within the party, which she believes is an unrealistic and potentially hazardous expectation in a diverse democracy.

Nov 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats urge Biden to do more about inflation

Rep. Elissa Slotkin greets President Biden as he arrives in Lansing, Michigan, last month. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Frontline Democrats in the House and Senate are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of urgency to combat rising prices, and are calling on President Biden to do more as consumers confront sticker shock ahead of the holidays.

Why it matters: The current party-line message on increasing inflation is that it's largely a product of the pandemic, and economists expect prices to come down early next year. However, many Democrats facing tough reelection fights think the Biden administration could be doing more to accelerate the process.

Nov 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democratic senators grill Powell on plan for inflation

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell walks through the Hart Senate Office Building last month. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is facing questions in private meetings with Democratic senators this week about how he plans to counter soaring inflation, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Democrats' intense focus on inflation reveals their concern rising prices are becoming a political liability. It also shows they're looking to the next Federal Reserve chair to devise a strategy to defeat it. President Biden promised to announce his choice as early as Friday.

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