President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) prioritized the passage of a massive infrastructure bill over the vocal opposition of most elected Republicans.
As U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) recently confirmed, however, the proposal is also attracting criticism from within his own party.
“Six or seven Democrats”
Manchin, whose vote would be pivotal in a chamber evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, expressed doubts this week regarding whether such a bill could muster enough support among moderates on his side of the aisle to pass through Congress.
In addition to his own misgivings about the contents of the $2.25 trillion spending package, he said that a group of “six or seven Democrats” object to the proposal’s inclusion of a significant hike in the corporate tax rate.
Although Manchin signaled his support for infrastructure spending, he said both parties “have been irresponsible with their financial responsibilities.”
Pointing the finger at the Trump administration for lowering the corporate tax rate too much, he said that raising it too steeply could hamper American enterprise. Trump dropped the rate to 21% and Biden wants to raise it to 28%.
“We have to be competitive”
During an interview with MetroNews Talkline, the West Virginia Democrat asserted: “We have to be competitive, and we’re not going to throw caution to the wind. We have to have our Republican friends working with us, too.”
For his part, Biden has been on a partisan spending spree, recently signing into law a nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill without any support from congressional Republicans. He has signaled that he is prepared to continue down that path to pursue his costly agenda and has seemingly warmed to the idea of getting rid of the filibuster.
With that legislative safeguard in place, however, he would need to convince at least 10 Senate Republicans to back him in order to reach the 60-vote threshold for passing new legislation.
The Senate parliamentarian indicated that the Biden administration could follow the same partisan route for his infrastructure bill that he endorsed for the prior COVID-19 relief bill, but even that would require support from all Senate Democrats for a tie that would be broken by Vice President Kamala Harris. Such a scenario would make votes by Manchin and other moderates especially critical.
GOP lawmakers have made it clear that they believe the bill is focused too much on social issues with only a limited amount of spending set aside for directly funding infrastructure projects. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, the proposal is “called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan horse, it’s going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.”