U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been singlehandedly holding up the advancement of a massive budget reconciliation bill, which he opposes because of its size and scope.
A new report indicates that he approached Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) earlier this year with a proposal to cap the Biden administration’s spending agenda to $1.5 trillion.
That number is less than half of the amount currently being sought by progressives on Capitol Hill. Politico provided details of the proposed agreement in a report on Thursday as intraparty fighting continued.
As the note makes clear: “Senate Manchin does not guarantee that he will vote for the final reconciliation legislation if it exceeds the conditions outlined in this agreement.”
“Try to dissuade Joe”
Assuming $1.5 trillion is still his topline figure, it appears that Manchin is staying true to his word as Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) try to unite the party behind the massive $3.5 trillion legislation.
According to the document, Schumer left a note that he would “try to dissuade Joe on many of these,” a non-committal tone echoed in his statements this week.
On Thursday, the Senate leader said he “merely acknowledged where Sen. Manchin was … at the time” and that Manchin “did not rule out” spending more than $1.5 trillion.
“I’m not asking them to change”
Some progressives in the Democratic Party have insisted that they would not vote for a smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill until Biden’s broader agenda is passed, which would ultimately require Manchin’s support in an evenly divided Senate.
He acknowledged in a statement on Thursday that his actions are outraging many members of his own party.
“For them to get theirs, I guess elect more liberals,” he said. “I’m not asking them to change.”
Manchin’s proposals might ultimately limit the scope of Biden’s ambitions, but it does not mean that he will prevent the passage of a spending bill in some form. Former Trump administration adviser Stephen Miller warned that conservatives were making a “huge tactical error” by focusing on the price tag, dismissing the Manchin opposition as political “theater.”