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Manchin Calls For Congress to Work Together While Refusing to Back $1.7T Spending Bill

Manchin Calls For Congress to Work Together While Refusing to Back $1.7T Spending Bill

Sen. Joe Manchin called a press conference on Monday to clarify his stance on the $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill Democrats are negotiating in Congress. Manchin said he won’t support the bill until there is “greater clarity” about the impact it will have on the country’s national debt and the economy, a warning sign for Democratic leaders trying to pass a pair of legislative packages key to President Joe Biden’s agenda as soon as this week.

Manchin spoke brusquely about the criticism he’s faced as one of two centrist Democrats holding up the legislation. Along with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Manchin has seemingly gone out of his way to rewrite the bill to suit his personal interests.

UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 03: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., arrives to the Capitol before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Monday, February 3, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Democrats plan to pass the plan using a process known as budget reconciliation that would allow them to approve the measure in the Senate without any GOP votes. But that means they would need all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus to vote for it. That dynamic has given Manchin as well the very moderate Sen. Sinema of Arizona, more power and influence than any two members of the body should have.

Manchin refused questions from the press despite calling for them, attempted to explain his position, calling for his colleagues to “stop playing games” and start working together.  “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, and most importantly all of our American people,” Manchin said.

Manchin also called on the House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and unironically warned progressives that “holding this bill hostage” won’t work in getting him to support the larger social spending and economic package.

Manchin has been non-committal about that larger package since Biden released a framework, but reiterated major concerns today.
The moderate Democrat from West Virginia has been coy about his views of this proposal, despite months of efforts by Biden and his team to court the senator to back a pared-back plan.

The bill is not yet finalized, but President Biden announced a framework last week spelling out key details. The plan is currently poised to grow the entitlement program to cover hearing benefits but stops short of vision and dental coverage as many liberals had demanded. It would also focus on expanding access to health care, addressing the climate crisis, and increasing aid to families among a number of provisions, and stands as a centerpiece of the President’s domestic agenda.

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