Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is urging Democrats to “hit a strategic pause” in passing the $3.5 trillion tax and spending package that his party leaders are looking to push through Congress this month, doubling down on his opposition in outlining his reasoning he won’t support the “human infrastructure” reconciliation bill in the current form until he gets “greater clarity” from Congress that ensure federal funding is spent responsibly without adding to the debt.
“The nation faces an unprecedented array of challenges and will inevitably encounter additional crises in the future,” Manchin wrote. “Yet some in Congress have a strange belief there is an infinite supply of money to deal with any current or future crisis and that spending trillions upon trillions will have no negative consequence for the future. I disagree,” Manchin said in the op-ed posted in the Wall Street Journal Thursday.
“By placing a strategic pause on this budgetary proposal, by significantly reducing the size of any possible reconciliation bill to only what America can afford and needs to spend, we can and will build a better and stronger nation for all our families,” Manchin added.
The $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” budget blueprint conjured out by Senate Democrats earlier in July and narrowly passed Senate earlier this month, setting the stage for Democrats to pour billions, increasing taxes while adding to the deficit to fund their focused based social safety net programs. Spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the budget blueprint includes tuition-free community college, free universal Pre-K, paid family leave, expansion of Medicare, and provides amnesty.
Manchin argued in the op-ed the $3.5 trillion spending plan amounts to a wish list of Democratic priorities from social programs to climate change, and
“Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt, or the inevitability of future crises,” Manchin said. “Those who believe such concerns are overstated should ask themselves: What do we do if the pandemic gets worse under the next viral mutation? What do we do if there is a financial crisis like the one that led to the Great Recession?”
“Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation,” Manchin added. “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. We must allow for a complete reporting and analysis of the implications a multitrillion-dollar bill will have for this generation and the next. Such a strategic pause will allow every member of Congress to use the transparent committee process to debate: What should we fund, and what can we simply not afford?”
Manchin called on the House to pass within a few weeks the Senate recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill separately. The West Virginia Senator centrist counterparts in the House led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) held out on voting for the budget resolution that enabled Democrats to bypass the Senate filibuster through reconciliation in exchange for a promise from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that the infrastructure bill will be considered later this month. Pelosi previously has vowed to link both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the final spending measure together.
Democratic-led committees in both chambers have a tight Sept. 15 deadline to assemble the legislation after the House passed the $3.5 trillion budget resolution blueprint last week amidst Afghanistan chaos. Under reconciliation, the Senate can advance a bill with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes usually required. But with the split 50-50 Senate, just a single Democrat defection will sink the whole bill entirely as the Senate GOP has come out universally opposed to the $3.5 trillion “tax-and-spend” spending package.
Progressive lashed out against Manchin with frustration following his op-ed being published. Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee chair, said he isn’t caving to Manchin’s demands tweeting Thursday night, “No infrastructure bill without the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.” House Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal tweeted, “Absolutely not,” while Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez blamed the West Virginia moderate for the 12 flooding deaths in New York City caused by Tropical Storm Ida.