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 .
Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va. K’s stand was described as unacceptable by the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, which is helping to formulate the measure. But 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.
With congressional committees working toward Wednesday’s goal set by party leaders to draft the bill, Munchkin clarified his view, in a series of television interviews, that there was “no way” that Congress would be the House Speaker. Nancy will meet the target by the end of September. Pelosi, D-California, to pass.
“I can’t support $3.5 trillion,” Manchin said, 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,” he said.
Pressing repeatedly about total support, Munchkin said, “It’s going to be $1, $1.5 (trillion).” He later suggested that the limit was based on a modest 25% increase in the corporate tax rate, a figure he believed would 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 Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is developing the budget bill, said he and other members of the liberal bloc in Congress had initially urged an even stronger $6 trillion package.
“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.”
The current blueprint proposes to rebuild infrastructure, tackle climate change and expand or launch a range of services, from free preschool to dental, vision and hearing aid care for senior citizens.
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. The September 27 target is to vote in favor of the moderates to vote on a slimmer infrastructure plan.
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 on a 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 on Sunday 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.