Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) confirmed on Sept. 12 that he won’t vote for a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that contains a number of climate, social welfare, and other initiatives, arguing that the price tag is far too high.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) won’t “have my vote on” the package, Manchin said during a CNN interview, adding that “Chuck knows that, and we’ve talked about this.”
The West Virginia Democrat argued that too much money has been spent by the federal government in recent years and expressed concerns about further increasing the national debt.
“We’ve already put out $5.4 trillion and we’ve tried to help Americans in every way we possibly can and a lot of the help that we’ve put out there is still there and it’s going to run clear until next year, 2022, so what’s the urgency?” Manchin told the network. “What’s the urgency that we have? It’s not the same urgency that we had with the American Rescue Plan. We got that out the door quickly. That was about $2 trillion.”
At the same time, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, told ABC News on Sept. 12 that he disagrees with Manchin’s call for a pause to debate the measure. Sanders, who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said that not only will the $3.5 trillion budget bill be approved, but he also believes the White House-backed infrastructure bill will pass.
“I think we’re gonna work it out, but it would really be a terrible, terrible shame for the American people if both bills went down,” Sanders said.
Speaking to CNN, Sanders also said that it’s “not acceptable” that Manchin won’t vote in lockstep with most other Democrats on the measure. In the equally divided Senate, even one Democratic senator’s defection could doom the spending package, and Republicans have signaled they have no intention of supporting the legislation.
Democrats also hope to pass the bill via budget reconciliation, which allows a party to pass a bill with a simple 51-vote majority instead of a supermajority.
The Senate returns on Sept. 13 and the tentative deadline for the committees to turn in their draft bills is Sept. 15.
Also in the CNN interview, Manchin disputed a Sept. 27 deadline that was publicly proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“There’s no way we can get this done by the 27th if we do our job,” he said.