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Maverick Democratic Senator Throws Cold Water on Biden & Pelosi's Effort to Pass $3.5 Trillion Plan

© REUTERS / Kevin LamarqueU.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) removes his mask to speak as bipartisan members of the Senate and House gather to announce a framework for fresh coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief legislation at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, 1 December 2020
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) removes his mask to speak as bipartisan members of the Senate and House gather to announce a framework for fresh coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief legislation at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, 1 December 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.09.2021
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Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, opposes Joe Biden's ambitious $3.5 trillion spending plan and has called upon his Senate peers to think twice before passing the new multi-trillion dollar bill. Without Manchin's vote, it will be impossible for Democrats to ram the legislation through the evenly split upper chamber of Congress.
In his 2 September op-ed for The Washington Post, Joe Manchin urged American congressmen to take a "strategic pause" on the $3.5 trillion budget bill, denouncing "artificial political deadlines" aimed at ramming the package through Congress.
"The nation faces an unprecedented array of challenges and will inevitably encounter additional crises in the future," the senator wrote on Thursday. "Yet some in Congress have a strange belief there is an infinite supply of money to deal with any current or future crisis, and that spending trillions upon trillions will have no negative consequence for the future. I disagree."
Over the past 18 months, the US government has spent over $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Democratic lawmaker, who warns about the dire consequences of soaring inflation. According to him, "an overheating economy has imposed a costly 'inflation tax' on every middle- and working-class American". He also cited the fact that the nation's debt has reached a record level of $28.7 trillion and keeps growing.
Earlier this week, the Democratic senator lashed out at the multi-trillion budget proposal at a West Virginia Chamber of Commerce event, stressing that the country already has "runaway inflation", the coronavirus pandemic and the botched Afghan pull-out on its plate. "I would ask my colleagues and all of the Senate to hit the pause button on the $3.5 [trillion]. Let's sit back. Let's see what happens," Manchin emphasised. He admitted that the Democratic Party is "going to go nuts right now because what I said is going to all my caucus in Washington".
Although Manchin has not completely ruled out voting for the bill, his demarche may force Joe Biden and the Democrats "to scale back [their] ambitions to ink the largest expansion of the US safety net in generations," according to NBC News. To complicate matters further, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz) has also announced that she opposes the proposed spending level.
​House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rushed to pass the $3.5 trillion bill through the lower chamber along party lines in late August despite Manchin voicing deep concerns about the package. In addition to that, the speaker also rammed HR 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, through the House, completely ignoring the West Virginia senator's amendments to the bill. It appears that these actions have deepened the rift between the party and Manchin.
​The Democratic senator has been at odds with his fellow party members for quite a while. Earlier, he refused to support eliminating or weakening the filibuster. He urged Democratic lawmakers to work together with the Republicans on Biden's infrastructure legislation. Similarly, Manchin insisted on the necessity to reconsider gun control laws passed by the House earlier this year. The moderate Democrat told journalists in late March: "I come from a gun culture. I'm a law-abiding gun owner." In April, Manchin sounded the alarm at how the budget reconciliation process was used by his party to stifle debate in the Senate. Manchin's resistance to the Democratic leadership has repeatedly prompted criticism from his party and the US press, which has called the "stubborn" Western Virginia senator "the barrier to progress."
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