West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he would only support President Joe Biden’s spending plan if the cost is cut by more than half, Axios reports.
Manchin has privately told White House and Congressional leaders that he has “specific policy concerns” about the sweeping package and will only support between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion in spending. The current budget blueprint calls for $3.5 trillion to pay for a health care expansion, child and family care benefits, climate change measures, free community college, and universal preschool.
Manchin, whose vote could doom the bill in the 50-50 Senate, said that all of the spending must be paid for in revenue increases. Manchin previously negotiated a separate $1 trillion infrastructure package that was not fully paid for but relied on “dynamic scoring” which factors in economic growth. Manchin said he doesn’t think dynamic scoring can be applied to the measures in the Democratic bill.
Manchin specifically cited concerns about the White House plan to provide $400 billion for home caregivers. He also wants to mean test the extension of the Child Tax Credit and other measures.
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has also objected to the price tag but has not cited any specific policy disagreements.
Bernie pushes back:
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, who is leading the push for the bill, said the $3.5 trillion price tag is already a compromise from the $6 trillion bill he and other progressives called for.
"That $3.5 trillion is already the result of a major, major compromise and at the very least this bill should contain $3.5 trillion," he told reporters, adding that an “overwhelming majority” of his committee backed the original $6 trillion proposal.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also rejected Manchin’s call for a “pause” on the bill.
"We're moving full-speed ahead. ... We want to keep going forward. We think getting this done is so important," he told reporters.
House releases its version:
The House Ways and Means Committee released hundreds of pages of its version of the budget bill.
The bill includes 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for all workers, a Medicare expansion to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage, and investments for nursing homes and long-term care.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also wants to expand Medicaid to millions of people who live in states that opted out of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
Democrats are also looking at ways to lower drug costs, possibly by allowing Medicare to negotiate costs or capping out-of-pocket costs for medication.
The plan includes an extension of the enhanced Child Tax Credit, which provides $250 per kid each month and $300 for kids under 6.
Democrats don’t sound too concerned about Manchin’s threat, though the final bill is likely to be well below $3.5 trillion.
"I don't have real concerns. I think Joe is doing what Joe needs to do for himself, for his state, and you're going to see other senators probably do some of this, as well," said Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth. "I think at the end of the day there'll be 50 votes. But I think we're going to go through a very healthy, loud family discussion about it."