President Joe Biden continues to face pressure from within his own party to trim the size of his grandiose domestic spending agenda.
As negotiations continue between progressive and moderate Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) suggested during a meeting this week that “zero” might be an appropriate price tag for the president’s ambitious infrastructure bill, as Axios reported.
“I’m comfortable with zero”
Along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Manchin is essentially preventing the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan from advancing despite a narrow Democratic majority on Capitol Hill.
Not only would the proposal dramatically expand the size of the federal government, but Manchin has also expressed concerns that it would spark further inflation and runaway deficits.
This week, he proposed passing a smaller infrastructure bill that has received bipartisan support and waiting six months before considering additional spending legislation.
“This will contribute to inflation,” he advised, according to Axios. “We’ve already passed the American Rescue Plan. We should just pass the infrastructure bill and, you know, pause for six months.”
For his part, Sanders signaled his support for an even larger $6 trillion package, prompting Manchin to remark: “I’m comfortable with zero.”
“Not going to happen anytime soon”
Despite the apparent impasse, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) claimed the meeting resulted in “significant progress” between the disparate factions of his party.
Manchin has also opposed members of his own party by threatening to derail Biden’s proposed $150 billion climate change agenda.
Nevertheless, he appears willing to approve as much as $1.5 trillion on the president’s domestic agenda even as progressives in his party have softened on their demands for a $3.5 trillion plan. Stephen Miller, a one-time adviser to former President Donald Trump, warned that the ostensible infighting among Democrats is likely just for show.
“The drama around Manchin is all theater,” he tweeted. “Ask yourself, when has he ever been the decisive 50th vote to pass something good or stop something terrible? Resting the fate of [the republic] on Manchin’s shoulders is the height of folly. GOP needs to fight like hell or this will become law.”
Despite Manchin’s earlier optimism that the two sides would come to an agreement on the issue, however, he acknowledged that it is “not going to happen anytime soon, guys.”