Sen. Joe Manchin, a key centrist Democrat whose approval is required to pass the party’s massive social welfare spending package, firmly rejected the proposal on Wednesday, criticizing the $3.5 trillion cost and the vast new entitlements it would provide.
Manchin issued a scathing statement about the massive spending package, criticizing the cost, tax increases, and social welfare programs that “spend for the sake of spending.”
The West Virginia Democrat’s thorough rejection of the measure follows days of talks with President Joe Biden and top Democrats, who had hoped to strike an accord with Manchin ahead of a House vote on the $1.2 infrastructure package.
“What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity,” Manchin said in a statement Wednesday.
His rejection of the package likely jeopardizes the passage of the infrastructure bill on Thursday. House liberals said they plan to block the bill unless House and Senate Democrats agree to a spending level and framework on the social welfare spending bill. The Senate deal hinges on a few key moderates, including Manchin.
But Manchin signaled he’s in no hurry to help negotiate a deal by Thursday.
“In August, I recommended we take a strategic pause to provide time to develop the right policies and to continue to monitor how the pandemic and economic factors are affecting our nation’s fiscal situation before we spend more,” Manchin said.
In addition to opposing the staggering cost of the legislation, Manchin wants changes to tax hikes Democrats plan to impose to pay for the bill, which he said would weaken the nation’s economic competitiveness and would hurt small businesses.
“Overall, the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford — not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending,” Manchin said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer planned to huddle with Biden Wednesday to plot what to do next.
Earlier Wednesday, Pelosi would not promise a vote on the infrastructure bill on Thursday, blaming Senate Democrats for failing to strike a deal with Manchin.
“I can’t keep a commitment that the Senate has made impossible to do,” Pelosi said.
After Manchin’s statement made the rounds on Capitol Hill, liberal Democrats were more confident than ever they would block the infrastructure bill if Pelosi brings it up for a vote.
Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal said Manchin’s statement “has created a bunch more votes on the House floor,” against the infrastructure bill.
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: Manchin trashes Democratic spending bill: ‘Fiscal insanity’