The nation’s top Democrats were desperately racing Wednesday to keep alive President Biden’s two signature spending plans as renegade members of their party signaled their willingness to kill both.
In a statement late Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), a key moderate, said he wouldn’t support a pending $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, leading House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Calif.) to pronounce the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure package dead on arrival.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — who’s scheduled a Thursday vote on the infrastructure plan — said she was taking things “hour by hour” following an emergency White House meeting with Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).
Pelosi said she hoped to have a better grasp on the situation following Wednesday night’s Congressional Baseball Game.
Manchin, who opposes the larger spending plan, said in his prepared statement, “I cannot — and will not — support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces.”
In response, Jayapal told reporters that Manchin’s remarks would likely force Pelosi to cancel Thursday’s infrastructure vote.
“I just don’t see how she’s going to bring it up and I tell you, after that statement, we probably have even more people willing to vote no,” Jayapal said.
Jayapal’s remarks came after several Democratic House members expressed doubt that Thursday’s vote would go forward as planned, Politico reported, with Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) saying, “My advice is to never put a vote on the floor that we can’t pass.”
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) also said of Pelosi, “Nancy is the best vote counter I’ve ever seen … and she won’t have the votes.”
Earlier in the day, Manchin publicly rejected Pelosi’s demand for agreed-upon legislative language” regarding the budget bill.
“That won’t happen,” Manchin told reporters.
“We haven’t been negotiating along those lines.”
Manchin also complained that the talks weren’t being conducted in “good faith.”
“All we need to do is pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, sit down and start negotiating in good faith. That’s it,” he said.
The planned infrastructure spending passed the Senate last month, 69-30, with the support of 19 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Meanwhile, Pelosi came under fire for echoing Biden’s Saturday claim that his $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better Agenda costs zero dollars” added to the national debt because the money would come from tax hikes on high earners and corporations.
“The dollar amount, as the president said, is zero,” Pelosi told reporters while making a circle with her thumb and forefinger.
“This bill will be paid for.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted, “If she really thinks her $3.5 trillion plan ‘costs zero dollars,’ she’s as delusional as President Biden.”