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Manchin Calls on Dems to ‘Pause’ $3.5T Reconciliation Bill, Citing Inflation Concerns

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) speaks during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 20, 2021. (Oliver Contreras/Pool/Reuters)

Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) on Thursday said he would not support his party’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill in its current form and criticized Democrats’ efforts to pass the measure “with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt or the inevitability of future crises.”

“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,” Manchin wrote in an essay for the Wall Street Journal.

He lists a myriad of concerns, including inflation, the nation’s $28.7 trillion debt and spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He calls on Congress to “hit a strategic pause” on the budget reconciliation legislation to allow for additional clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic and to determine whether inflation is transitory.

“While some have suggested this reconciliation legislation must be passed now, I believe that making budgetary decisions under artificial political deadlines never leads to good policy or sound decisions.” he said. “I have always said if I can’t explain it, I can’t vote for it, and I can’t explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion.”

“I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs,” he added.

Manchin’s essay comes one day after he similarly urged Congress to “hit the pause button” during an event hosted by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“Let’s sit back. Let’s see what happens. We have so much on our plate. We really have an awful lot. I think that would be the prudent, wise thing to do,” he said then.

“I want to be able to take care of our military that can defend us anywhere in the world if it’s called upon. I want to make sure our economy is still robust,” Manchin added. “I want to make sure we’re bringing manufacturing back in opportunities. I don’t want to have debt over our head to where we basically can’t service the debt that we have.”

Though the moderate Democrat said there is a “lot of good stuff” in the bill, he said there is not “anything that we need immediately.”

Manchin’s rebuke of his party’s proposed spending comes as Democrats on the House and Senate committees work to draft and mark up sections of the spending bill ahead of September 15, the soft deadline to complete the draft.

In order to pass the massive spending bill using budget reconciliation, the party will need the support of all 50 Democrats in the Senate to reach a simple majority.

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