Manchin Refuses to Back Biden's $1.75 Trillion Spending Plan, Decries 'Political Games' of Lawmakers
Congressional Democratic leaders have as yet been unable to sway their moderate colleagues to back a $1.75 trillion framework for US President Joe Biden's social spending package. The framework was trimmed from its initial $3.5 trillion price tag following criticism from centrist Democrats like Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ).
On Monday, Manchin expressed to reporters that he was not prepared to back a reconciliation package until he receives clarity on the $1.75 trillion framework's impact on inflation and the US federal deficit. The updated framework was released late last week.
"I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact that it will have on our national debt, our economy, and most importantly, all of our American people," the US senator from West Virginia said during an afternoon news conference.
Manchin stated that "political games have to stop" and House Democrats should cease holding the infrastructure bill "hostage" by tying the legislation to the reconciliation package.
"There are some House Democrats who say they can't support this infrastructure package until they get my commitment on the reconciliation legislation," he said. "It is time to vote on the [infrastructure] bill, up or down, and then go home and explain to your constituents the decision you made."
"Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the regular reconciliation bill," Manchin proclaimed.
Nevertheless, the White House appears confident that both Manchin and Sinema will ultimately support the $1.75 trillion package.
"Senator Manchin says he is prepared to support a Build Back Better plan that combats inflation, is fiscally responsible, and will create jobs," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement issued after Manchin's comments. "The plan the House is finalizing meets those tests—it is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care, and housing."
Psaki added that 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists have thrown their support behind the package as a means to reduce inflation.
The bill was significantly trimmed down from Biden's initial $3.5 trillion framework. The new plan abandons efforts to lower prescription drug costs, paid family leave funding and free community college.
As for the American public, a new ABC News Ipsos poll
found that those in the US are evenly divided, with 34% of the 514 respondents
stating they think the bills would hurt the US economy and another 34% saying they believe the legislation will help stimulate the economy.
Around 68% of Democrats polled said they thought the bill would help the economy, while only 7% of Republicans surveyed responded the same.