Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said his fellow Democrats should “hit the pause button” on plans to move forward with a sweeping $3.5 trillion social spending package, signaling an uphill battle for party leadership looking to pass a massive bill to address key Biden administration policies.
The West Virginia centrist Democrat said that the not-yet-finalized legislation — which is expected to include language on changes to climate policy, immigration reform and an expansion of Medicare — isn’t an urgent matter, and stressed his concerns about spending levels while speaking at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce annual business summit on Wednesday.
“Hit the pause button,” he said. “Let’s sit back. Let’s see what happens. We have so much on our plate. We really have an awful lot. I think that would be the prudent, wise thing to do.”
Manchin said while he is supportive of some of the provisions being talked about, he wants to ensure federal funding is being directed and spent responsibly.
“I want to be able to take care of our military that can defend us anywhere in the world if it’s called upon. I want to make sure our economy is still robust. I want to make sure we’re bringing manufacturing back in opportunities,” he continued.
“I don’t want to have debt over our head to where we basically can’t service the debt that we have. … There’s a lot of good stuff in here, but it’s not anything that we need immediately. We’ve done over $6 trillion.”
Manchin — whose support is pivotal for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who needs to hold his entire caucus together to pass the measure using the reconciliation process — reiterated that he would not back a bill that is “anywhere near” the $3.5 trillion spending level in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Thursday.
“We must allow for a complete reporting and analysis of the implications a multitrillion-dollar bill will have for this generation and the next. Such a strategic pause will allow every member of Congress to use the transparent committee process to debate: What should we fund, and what can we simply not afford?” he wrote.
“I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs.”
His comments come one week after the House passed a budget resolution allowing for Democrats to move forward with the reconciliation process, with top Democrats looking to have the legislation crafted by Sept. 15.