A Democratic senator critical of the fate of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan for social and environmental spending says he won’t support even half that amount or an ambitious timetable for passing it .
WASHINGTON — As congressional Democrats move forward this week in pursuit of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan for social and environmental spending, a Democratic senator critical of the bill’s fate says the cost to his victory will be reduced. That would need to be reduced from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion. Cooperation.
Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., also cautioned that there was “no way” Congress would meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California’s end-September target, over her current widening differences with liberal Democrats. Seeing how much to spend and how to pay for it.
“I can’t support $3.5 trillion,” Manchin said on Sunday, citing specifically his opposition to a proposed increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and huge new social spending. “We should see everything, and we are not. We don’t need to rush into it and complete it within a week because there is some deadline that we are meeting, or someone is going to fall through the cracks.”
Democrats have no vote if they want to implement Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” agenda, the Senate is split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris is the tiebreaker if there is no Republican support. Democratic congressional leaders are aiming to draft the bill for committees on Wednesday.
Repeatedly pressured about a price tag that it might support, Manchin said, “it’s going to be $1, $1.5 (trillion).” He suggested that the limit was based on a modest 25% increase in the corporate tax rate, a figure he believes will keep the US globally competitive.
“The numbers they want to pay for and they want to make tax changes, is that competitive?” Manchin asked. “I believe some changes have been made that don’t keep us competitive.”
But Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, who chairs the Senate budget committee and is helping draft the measure, said he and other members of the liberal party in Congress initially raised even more than $6 trillion. Strong package was requested. He called Munchkin’s proposal a nonstarter.
“I don’t think it’s acceptable to the president, the American people, or the overwhelming majority of people in the Democratic caucus,” Sanders said. He continued: “I believe that we will all sit down and work together and come up with a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that deals with the most unmet needs of working families.”
Existing blueprints propose to rebuild infrastructure, tackle climate change and expand or launch a range of services from free preschools to dental, vision and hearing aid care for older people.
Congressional committees are working hard on a 10-year proposal’s slice this month to draft a bill to meet this week’s deadline from Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y. Pelosi is seeking a House vote by October 1 near the September 27 deadline to vote on a slimmer infrastructure plan backed by liberal lawmakers.
Munchkin, who in an op-ed earlier this month urged a “strategic pause” on the law to reconsider the cost, called the timing unrealistic. He has urged Congress to act first on the nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill already passed by the Senate. But moderate Democrats have threatened to withhold their support unless a bill to spend $3.5 trillion with it is passed.
Neither side disclosed in their remarks on Sunday’s news programs how they hope to quickly bridge the divide among Democrats.
“There’s no way we can get it done by the 27th, if we do our bit,” Manchin said. “We have so many differences here and there – so much more than where we are. … I’m working with people. I’m willing to talk to people. It doesn’t matter.”
Manchin spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and ABC’s “This Week.” Sanders was on CNN and ABC.
AP Congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.