Politics & Policy

Manchin Hammers Home Opposition to $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Bill: ‘Fiscal Insanity’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counter-terrorism operations on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 28, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via Reuters)

Amid the partisan battles ensuing in Congress over the two pending legislative reconciliation and infrastructure packages, moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, on whom the advancement of the $3.5 trillion social spending bill depends, has hammered home his opposition to it.

In a statement released Wednesday, the West Virginia senator reiterated his firm opinion, that he claims he’s repeated to Democratic leaders and President Biden ad nauseam, that he refuses to endorse expanding government programs of the magnitude that progressive House Democrats are proposing. “We can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare,” he said.

Such an astronomical bill, which is supposed to provide for childcare, healthcare, education, climate change, and other Democratic priorities, would amount to “fiscal insanity,” he added.

Next, Manchin outlined his concerns with inflation, arguing that the Democrats blindness to the implications of sweeping spending sprees “ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue to pay an unavoidable inflation tax.”

While he explained that he supports making the wealthy and top earners “pay their fair share,” he said he believes hiking taxes should not come at the cost of “global competitiveness or the ability of millions of small businesses to compete with the Amazons of the world.”

Advocating for fiscal responsibility rather than a wholesale restructuring of the economy, which he implied he suspects progressive Democrats intend by their spending plan, Manchin affirmed: “the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford- not designed to re-engineer the social and economic fabric of this nation for vengeful tax for the sake of wishful spending.”

On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to pursue two separate tracks for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. As a result, the two pieces of legislation are no longer inextricably linked, fueling some progressive Democrats’ fears that the former could pass without the latter accompanying it.

For the reconciliation bill to pass in its current form, the Democrats backing it must secure a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate, an increasingly unlikely scenario given that Manchin chose to double-down against it. Another obstacle Democrats face is moderate Democratic Senator Kristen Sinema, who has expressed similar qualms with the reconciliation bill as Manchin and will likely oppose it.

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