Joe Manchin urges Democrats to ‘take a break’ on Biden’s $3.5T budget as amid Afghanistan fiasco and spike in COVID cases
- Joe Manchin pressed the pause button on President Joe Biden’s ambitious plan for a $3.5 trillion budget for social programs
- “For example, I won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without more clarity,” he wrote in an op-ed.
- Citing concerns about high government spending during the COVID pandemic, inflation and crisis in Afghanistan
- In the 50-50 Senate, Democrats need his vote to approve the budget
- Progressive House Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib rejected Machin’s decision
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin pressed the pause button on President Joe Biden’s ambitious plan for a $3.5 trillion budget for social programs, saying he cannot support the legislation.
The West Virginia senator was expected to vote against, but he formally made his intentions known in an op-ed published in the paper Thursday. Wall Street Journal.
A pivotal, critical voice in the Senate, he called for a “strategic pause” in spending.
“Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funds, Congress should take a strategic pause in budget-alignment legislation,” he wrote.
A pause is warranted as it will provide greater clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transient or not. While some have suggested that this reconciliation legislation should now be passed, I believe that making budget decisions with artificial political deadlines will never lead to good policies or sound decisions,” he added.
Joe Manchin pressed the pause button on President Joe Biden’s ambitious plan for a $3.5 trillion budget for social programs
In the 50-50 Senate, President Joe Biden Needs Every Democratic Vote
Lawmakers this week will begin drafting the details of the $3.5 trillion budget deal, which will affect the country’s education, health care and tax laws.
Manchin left the door open to support a smaller package that supports social programs such as free pre-K, extended paid family, and medical leave and climate issues. But he said the amount of government spending related to the coronavirus pandemic and fears of inflation worried him about more money.
“For example, I will not support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without more clarity as to why Congress chooses to ignore the dire effects of inflation and debt on existing government programs.” he noted.
Given the 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrats need all their senators to vote their way. Without Manchin’s support, the $3.5 trillion budget package is doomed to fail.
Manchin and his fellow moderate Senator Kyrsten Sinema had expressed concern about the price tag. In the other wing of the party, liberals said spending was not high enough.
Progressive House Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib rejected Machin’s decision.
Manchin has weekly meetings with Exxon and is one of many senators who give lobbyists their pens to write so-called ‘two-tier’ fossil fuel bills. It kills people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this “two-pronged” corruption masquerading as clear-eyed moderation,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
“Instead of writing op-eds, why not look at the faces of my residents who have flooded their basements multiple times with sewage and lost power for days, Senator Manchin. We deserve better,” Tlaib wrote.
Democrats plan to push the budget through the reconciliation process, which will help them get around the need for Republican support.
In comments Wednesday at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual business summit, Manchin added Afghanistan to his concerns about ramping up federal spending.
“I want to be able to provide for our army that can defend us anywhere in the world if necessary. I want to make sure our economy is still robust. I want to make sure we give production opportunities again,” he said.
He also revealed that last month he had told Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, that he was against the $3.5 trillion price tag.
“He looked at me and said, ‘Are you going to vote for the three and a half trillion?’ I said, “Damn, Bernie, I’m not voting for three and a half trillion,” Manchin remarked.