Sen. Joe Manchin confirmed Sunday that he will not vote for President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan that will drastically reshape the nation’s social safety net — prompting Sen. Bernie Sanders to rip the decision as “not acceptable.”
Manchin (D-WV) — who holds a key vote in the narrowly divided Senate — was asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying he will move “full speed ahead” with the package.
“He will not have my vote on $3.5 [trillion] and Chuck knows that, and we’ve talked about this,” he responded. “It’s not going to be $3.5 — I can assure you.”
In another interview Sunday, Manchin questioned why Democrats were pushing the legislation through the Senate at such a breakneck pace.
“We don’t have the need to rush into this and get it done within one week because there’s some deadline we’re meeting or someone’s going to fall through the cracks,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I want to make sure that children are getting taken care of, that people are basically having an opportunity to go back to work. We have 11 million jobs that we haven’t filled, 8 million people still unemployed. Something’s not matching up there,” he said.
Sanders (I-Vt.) appeared on CNN after Manchin and lashed out at the West Virginia lawmaker for setting the ceiling so low.
“No, it’s absolutely not acceptable to me. I don’t think it’s acceptable to the president, to the American people, or to the overwhelming majority of the people in the Democratic Caucus,” Sanders told host Dana Bash.
“This is a consequential bill, it is hard to put a bill like this together. At the end of the day I believe we will,” Sanders said.
The massive $3.5 trillion, 10-year plan would address a number of Biden’s priorities like education, climate change and immigration reform while also expanding the social safety net.
Manchin urged Schumer (D-NY) to slow down and give lawmakers more time to discuss the spending bill and how it will be funded.
“Don’t you think we ought to hit the pause and find out the vulnerability that we have right now?” he said on CNN. “We don’t know what happened with this COVID. It’s awful, coming back the way it is with a vengeance. We don’t know about inflation. We know it’s running rampant right now. I can tell you in West Virginia inflation’s running rampant. And on top of that the challenges we’re going to have – geopolitical challenges — shouldn’t we be prepared?”
Sanders said he’s willing to give lawmakers more time to discuss the package but insisted time is ticking.
“But there is a sense of urgency. And a sense of urgency is that we live in a country today where the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well, while working-class people are struggling all over this country in terms of health care. You got 90 million people uninsured or underinsured,” he said.
Manchin, who wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month outlining his opposition, also suggested the price tag on the legislation be lowered to around $1.5 trillion.
He said he had concerns with raising taxes to pay for the package because he believed former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts were “weighted to the wealthy.”
“If we have a competitive tax code -- from a non-competitive, doesn’t help the working person that was done in 2017 — that’s in the $1 [trillion], $1.5 [trillion] range, OK, with that’s where it is. Shouldn’t you be looking at, what does it take now to meet the urgent needs that we have that we haven’t already met?” he said.
For the spending package to pass through the process of reconciliation in the 50-50 divided Senate, all 50 Democratic senators would have to approve it.
Vice President Kamala Harris would act as the tiebreaker.
No Republicans are expected to approve it.