Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat obstructing Joe Biden’s $ 3.5 billion spending bill, again insisted on Sunday that he would not back the package, saying the price was too high and efforts to the White House to accelerate its too hasty adoption.
The West Virginia senator, who earlier this month urged the administration to “hit the pause button” on the ambitious measure, is the deciding vote in a 50-50 split chamber. Last week, Ronald Klain, the White House chief of staff, said he thought Manchin was “very convincing,” while Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, said the draft Budget reconciliation law was “at full speed”.
But in Sunday appearances on two political talk shows, Manchin reiterated his opposition, telling ABC This Week: “I cannot support $ 3.5 billion. If I can’t come home and explain [the bill], I cannot vote for.
“There is no rush to do it right now. We have no urgency. Don’t you think we should debate a little more, talk about it and see what we have there? “
Manchin did not specify what figure he said would be an acceptable federal investment in the bill, which targets health care, immigration reform and efforts to address the climate crisis among other priorities and social programs. But in private discussions with colleagues, it would have floated a total of $ 1 billion to $ 1.5 billion.
His resistance has aroused the ire of progressives in his own caucus, including some House Democrats who threaten to block a smaller, bipartisan $ 1 billion infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate unless that Manchin does not give in.
Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who said $ 3.5 billion was “already the result of a major compromise,” urged Manchin to reconsider his decision.
“You have an overwhelming majority of working families in America who want us to do this. You have the President, you have over 90% of the House, over 90% of the Senators, ”Sanders said during his own appearance on This Week.
“Is it appropriate that one person destroys two laws?” Joe Manchin has the right to be heard. He has to sit down with all of us and we’ll fix it. It would really be a terrible, terrible shame on the American people if both bills went down. “
Manchin also spoke out against one of his most vocal critics in the House, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who criticized her perceived opposition to spending money on social programs and d infrastructure while being close to the fossil fuel industry. .
« [I’m] fed up with this “bipartite” corruption which masquerades as lucid moderation “, she wrote in a tweet earlier this month, claiming that Manchin held weekly “caucuses” with the oil company Exxon, and that “so-called“ bipartisan ”fossil fuel bills” were “killing people”.
On CNN’s State of the Union show Sunday, Manchin denied the allegation. “I keep my door open for everyone, this is totally wrong,” he said.
“These kinds of superlatives are just awful. I don’t know the young lady, I met her once. She is only speculating.
Of the House Democrats’ threat to derail the infrastructure bill, he said, “They have to do what they have to do. If they play politics with America’s needs, I can tell you America will back down.