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Sen. Joe Manchin. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is urging his Democratic colleagues to "hit the pause button" on a $3.5 trillion spending bill, citing more urgent priorities like the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Why it matters: Democrats plan to pass that legislation via the budget reconciliation process, paving the way for a massive infrastructure infusion without Republican votes. In a 50-50 Senate, they'll need every single Democrat's support, including Manchin's.

Driving the news: Manchin made these comments Wednesday at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual business summit (His remarks start at 2:02:20).

  • But they drew little attention amid coverage of the flooding in the Northeast, the U.S. exit from Afghanistan and the Texas abortion ruling.

What he's saying: "[I]f the country is facing what we're facing now — the unknown of the COVID ... the unknown of the world order, if you will, coming out of Afghanistan," Manchin said, "I would ask my colleagues, and all of the Senate, to hit the pause button on the $3.5 [trillion]. Hit the pause button. Let's sit back, let's see what happens."

  • "I want to be able to take care of our military that can defend us anywhere in the world if it's called upon. I want to make sure our economy is still robust. I want to make sure we're bringing manufacturing back in opportunities."
  • "I don't want to have debt over our head to where we basically can't service the debt that we have ...the $3.5 [trillion], there's a lot of good stuff in here … but it's not anything that we need immediately. We've done over $6 trillion."

Manchin doubled down on those comments in a Thursday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, writing: "I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, 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."

The big picture: Democrats on the House and Senate committees are currently drafting and marking up sections of the spending bill, with a soft deadline of Sept. 15 to complete their draft.

  • The White House and congressional leadership have also privately been trying to assuage concerns about the size of the package through individual calls and member briefings.

This story has been updated to include a newly published op-ed from Manchin.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 9, 2021 - Economy & Business

Apple spearheads era of the mega-caps

Data: YCharts; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Amazon have between them gained $5.5 trillion of value since their March 2020 lows.

Zoom in: Apple alone has risen in value by an astonishing $1.85 trillion in just 433 trading sessions — an average increase of well over $4 billion per day.

  • In just 118 days between May 6 and September 1 last year, Apple increased its valuation by $1 trillion.
  • Before 2018, no company had ever even been worth $1 trillion. Now, Apple will be worth more than $3.3 trillion if it rises from its current level of $175 and hits Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty's target of $200 per share.
Kate Marino, author of Markets
Dec 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

Economist group touts Build Back Better as inflation offset

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

With inflation numbers expected to come out hot this morning, a group of 56 economists says President Biden’s Build Back Better Act would counteract the impact of rising prices on Americans’ wallets.

Driving the news: The economists signed a letter, released Friday morning in conjunction with left-leaning advocacy group Invest in America Action, urging Congress to pass the social spending plan swiftly, in order to get the ball rolling on programs that will lower costs for essentials like child care, health care and education.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.