Ahead of Thursday’s pivotal vote in the House on Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) persisted in his opposition to the trillion-dollar price tag.
In a statement on Wednesday, Manchin, who has previously resisted the bill and even publicly called on Democrats to put a “pause” on it, said that he cannot support the trillions of dollars in spending:
While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot — and will not — support trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces. There is a better way and I believe we can find it if we are willing to continue to negotiate in good faith.
Manchin further added that he made it explicitly clear to President Biden and congressional Democrats that he does not support the expansion of government without being able to pay for current social programs.
What I have made clear to the president and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity. Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue to pay the inflation tax.
The senator from West Virginia concluded his statement warning that history shows reckless spending has been the death knell for nations in the past:
America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies. Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest responsibility as elected leaders and pass on a better America.
Manchin statement: “While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot – and will not – support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces” pic.twitter.com/o4SfquXHOj
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 29, 2021
Manchin’s lack of support for the current infrastructure bill highlights the civil war brewing within the Democrat Party between the moderate and progressive wing, whose agendas have clashed throughout the bill’s saga. As CNN noted:
House moderates want to pass the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, which would spend hundreds of billions of dollars upgrading roads, bridges, transit, rail, broadband, airports, ports and waterways.
Meanwhile, liberal House Democrats want to pass a massive proposal known as the Build Back Better Act, which would expand the child tax credit and Medicare’s ability to cover vision, hearing and dental care, fund community college and universal prekindergarten initiatives, combat climate change, and fund elder care and paid leave programs. The bill would be paid for, at least in part, by huge tax increases primarily on corporations and the wealthy.
But the conflicting demands of the two wings of the Democratic Party have put Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi in a tough spot, as progressives push to strike a deal with moderates on their once-in-a-generation bill.
Manchin is not alone in his opposition to the massive spending package. According to the New York Times, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) continued opposition to elements of the bill has prompted a “revolt” among some of her most devoted followers. Noted the Times:
Sinema is facing a growing political revolt at home from the voters who once counted themselves among her most devoted supporters. Many of the state’s most fervent Democrats now see her as an obstructionist whose refusal to sign on to a major social policy and climate change bill has helped imperil the party’s agenda.
During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders lamented that Sinema and Manchin have been far too elusive with what they want in the bill.
“I think that there has been a lot of frustration with both of those senators in that they have not come forward and said, you know, ‘This is what I want. This is what my concern has been.’ They have talked in vague terms, but we haven’t seen the specifics that we need,” said Sanders.