Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday dashed President Biden’s hope for a vote on his $1.75 trillion reconciliation package this week as he called on the House to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill on its own.
The West Virginia Democrat, whose centrist vote wields much power in the 50-50 Senate, put the breaks on the larger spending package, saying in a press conference he would not vote for it until he had ‘greater clarity’ on what its impact would be for inflation and the national debt.
On Friday, President Biden called the spending bill ‘fiscally responsible’ and ‘fully paid for.’
But on Monday, Manchin said: ‘Simply put, I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact that it will have on our national debt, our economy.’
Even after Democrats paired down their initial spending package from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, Manchin said his vote should not be taken for granted.
‘I’m open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward,’ Manchin said. ‘But I am equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country.’
The senator said he will not support a bill ‘that expands social programs and irresponsibly adds to our $29 trillion debt that no one seems to really care about or really talk about. Nor will I support a package that risks hurting American families suffering from historic inflation.’
With President Biden off in Europe, Manchin’s remarks are just another blow for the White House just hours before the polls open in the crucial Virginia governor’s race and with a new poll showing 44 percent of Democratic voters want him replaced on the 2024 presidential ticket.
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National poll released Monday showed 44 percent of left-leaning voters want to replace the president at the top of the ticket in 2024, 36 percent want to keep him there as his landmark legislative agenda hangs on by a thread.
After Manchin’s press conference, the White House almost immediately released a statement saying they ‘remained confident’ the final bill would win Manchin’s support.
After Manchin’s press conference, the White House almost immediately released a statement saying they ‘remained confident’ the final bill would win Manchin’s support
‘Senator Manchin says he is prepared to support a Build Back Better plan that combats inflation, is fiscally responsible, and will create jobs. The plan the House is finalizing meets those tests—it is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care, and housing,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
‘Experts agree: Seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists have said it will reduce inflation. As a result, we remain confident that the plan will gain Senator Manchin’s support.’
Meanwhile, Manchin said that ‘shell games’ and ‘budget gimmicks’ could make the real cost of the $1.75T bill almost twice that amount.
‘This is a recipe for economic crisis,’ he added.
A lot of the spending cuts were made by cutting down on the length of time programs would be funded, but Manchin noted funding was likely to be extended to the original length of time in future Congresses.
He called out progressives in the House and insisted the lower chamber hold a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
‘Holding that bill hostage is not going to work to get my support for what you want,’ Manchin said. Progressives in the House have insisted they would not vote for the smaller infrastructure bill until the reconciliation bill was up for a vote in the Senate.
‘Compromise is not good enough,’ Manchin said, criticizing his liberal House colleagues for holding up the vote. ‘For a lot of my colleagues in Congress, it’s all or nothing. Their position doesn’t seem to change.’
Manchin walked out, taking no questions as he said he would not negotiate in public.
Before Manchin’s remarks, progressives had seemed increasingly optimistic that both bills would come up for a vote this week, and had agreed to back the smaller, $1.75T spending package.
After his remarks, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, leader of the House progressive Caucus, says she is trusting the president to get the votes for the bill.
‘The president says he can get 51 votes for the bill, we are going to trust him … We’re tired of continuing to wait for one or two people.’
Biden delayed his trip to Rome last week to go down to Capitol Hill to court votes for the pair of bills, which together make up his Build Back Better agenda.
The White House released the new ‘framework’ of its $1.75T deal on Thursday, and in a win for Biden, progressives signaled their support, even though the framework left out a plan for paid leave, along with new dental and vision benefits for Medicare.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had originally planned to hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, the BIF, before President Biden left for Europe last Thursday, but scrapped those plans amid tense negotiations with progressives.
‘These two bills need to go together,’ said Jayapal last week.
Biden had hoped to have a win in hand by the time he landed. Instead, he has the same ‘framework’ he pitched to lawmakers. It includes more than $500 billion in climate programs he can tout in a meeting with the Pope and in climate meetings in Scotland – but like the infrastructure bill, they will not have become law.
Both Manchin and fellow moderate Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., touted ‘progress’ last week but did not say whether they’d sign on to the framework.
Biden, in a speech before leaving for Europe, pointed out key provisions, including: an expanded child tax credit for families; funds for 500,000 electric vehicle charge stations; funds to cap oil leaks and methane wells; aide for people with elderly parents; pre-K funding; and tax provisions to target the wealthy.
‘All I’m asking is pay your fair share. Pay your fair share. Pay your fair share,’ he said.
The bill includes nearly $2 trillion in revenue raisers, and assumes $400 billion in savings from beefed up IRS enforcement alone. One new tax provision would provide a 5 per cent surtax on income of more than $10 million.
According to the White House the revenue-raising provisions would cancel out the new social spending and climate programs. The framework does not yet have bill language – and congressional scorekeepers cannot provide an estimate until that happens.
WHAT’S IN JOE BIDEN’S LATEST BUILD BACK BETTER FRAMEWORK?
Investments in Children, Families and Caregiving that Grow the Economy’s Capacity
• Universal Preschool for all 3- and 4-year Olds: Expand access to free high-quality preschool for more than 6 million children
• Limit child care costs for families to no more than 7% of income
• Strengthening an existing program through Medicaid for eldercare and the disabled
• Extend for one year the current expanded Child Tax Credit for more than 35 million American households, with monthly payments for households earning up to $150,000 per year
• Clean Energy Tax Credits ($320 billion) for utility-scale and residential clean energy, transmission and storage, clean passenger and commercial vehicles, and clean energy manufacturing
• Investments and incentives to address extreme weather (wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes, including in forestry, wetlands, and agriculture), legacy pollution in communities, and a Civilian Climate Corps.
• Investments and Incentives for Clean Energy Technology, Manufacturing, and Supply Chains
• Affordable Care Act Premium Tax Credits: Extend the expanded Affordable Care Act premium tax credits through 2025.
• Allow Medicare to cover the cost of hearing.
Bringing Down Costs, Reducing Inflationary Pressures, and Strengthening the Middle Class
• $150 billion investment in housing affordability and reducing price pressures, including in rural areas.
• Raise the maximum Pell grant, providing support to Historically Black Colleges & Universities (‘HBCUs’) and similar institutions
• Earned Income Tax Credit for 17 Million Low-Wage Workers: Extend for one year the current expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers.
• Stop Profitable Corporations from Paying Zero in Tax
• Tax on stock buybacks by corporations
• 15% Corporate Minimum Tax on Large Corporations
• 1% Surcharge on Corporate Stock Buybacks
• Global Minimum Tax: Consistent with OECD and with appropriate effective date for 15%, Country-by-Country
• Penalty Rate for Foreign Corporations Based in Non-Compliant Countries (i.e. Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax)
• New Surtax on Multi-Millionaires and Billionaires with 5% surtax on income of more than $10 million
• Close Medicare Self-Employment Tax Loophole by Strengthening the Net Investment Income
• Investments to boost IRS Enforcement with focus on the wealthy
And what got cut …
• Paid family leave
• Two years of free community college
• Medicare being able to negotiate prescription drug prices
• Vision care via Medicare
• Dental care via Medicare