Centrist West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin said he will support a Democratic-only reconciliation bill but is holding out on how much it will cost, The Hill reports.
Manchin, a key vote in the evenly split Senate who has preached bipartisanship for years, was a key negotiator in the bipartisan talks with Senate Republicans on an infrastructure bill.
But President Joe Biden and top Democratic leaders have said that they will only agree to the bipartisan bill, which is much smaller than Biden’s initial proposal and does not include tax increases on corporations or the wealthy, if it is passed at the same time as a larger spending bill that Democrats could pass with a simple majority using the budget reconciliation process.
It’s unclear how big that bill would be. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders is pushing for as much as $6 trillion for the bill, which would expand Medicare coverage under his proposal.
But the final price tag is expected to be far less.
Manchin backs reconciliation bill:
Senate Republicans have pressured Manchin to oppose a partisan bill in favor of the bipartisan bill, which would provide less than $600 billion in new funding.
But Manchin told MSNBC on Tuesday that while the two bills should not be linked, he has said from “day one” that Democrats will need to use the reconciliation process because Republicans don’t want to make any changes to the 2017 Trump tax cuts.
“We're going to have to work it through reconciliation, which I’ve agreed that that can be done. I just haven’t agreed on the amount, because I haven’t seen everything that everyone is wanting to put in the bill," he said.
Manchin backs up to $2 trillion in funding:
Manchin told ABC News that he would support a bill that provides far less in funding than Sanders -- and Biden -- have called for.
“I want to make sure we pay for it. I do not want to add more debt on,” he said. “So if that’s $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion or $2 trillion — whatever that comes out to be over a 10-year period — that’s what I would be voting for.”
“We’re $28.5 trillion [in debt]. We cannot continue to add on things that we can’t pay for. We’re writing checks our kids can’t ever cash,” he added, noting he supports more funding for “human infrastructure,” but “to what degree? We’ll see what we’re able to pay for.”