CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is not behind the White House’s infrastructure plan as written, noting the proposed ways of covering its costs as problematic.
“Infrastructure is definitely needed in America, and we have to pay for it,” Manchin said on Monday’s “MetroNews Talkline.”
“We can’t continue to throw caution to the wind, and both sides — Democrats and Republicans both — have been irresponsible with their financial responsibilities that we have for our country and our future generations.”
President Joe Biden unveiled the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan last week, which includes $621 billion for transportation infrastructure — including $115 billion for improving highways and roads — as well as funding for water and electricity networks, broadband and school improvements. The plan also dedicates money toward workforce development, regional economic improvements and manufacturing.
The proposal is supported by an overhaul of the nation’s tax laws, notably increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and the global minimum tax on corporations from 13% to 21%. Corporations would also face more requirements in claiming to be a foreign company.
Manchin said lawmakers should pass an infrastructure bill, but shared his opposition to increasing the corporate tax rate to Biden’s proposed level.
“Let’s collect what we should,” he said. “I think corporate should have been 25%. Other than that, basically looking at all the loopholes and money that’s uncollected.”
The top corporate tax rate went from 35% to 21% in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Manchin voted against the measure.
“I can assure you if you go and talk to the average person … they will not tell you they remember any of the benefits they received from that bill. Most of that went to the higher-income brackets,” he said.
The president’s infrastructure plan follows his approval of the coronavirus relief measure in March. The Senate passed the $1.9 trillion legislation through reconciliation — a procedure allowing senators to advance a bill with a simple majority — but Manchin argued using the legislative vehicle to pass the White House’s plan would be difficult.
“There’s six or seven other Democrats that feel very strongly about this,” he said. “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.”
Manchin is part of a bipartisan group of 20 senators focused on cooperation across party lines in the 50-50 Senate. Manchin recruited Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to the group at the start of the current Congress.
Capito, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called Biden’s plan a “clear attempt to transform the economy by advancing progressive priorities in an unprecedented way.”
“The proposal would aggressively drive down the use of traditional energy resources and eliminate good-paying jobs in West Virginia and across the country. Perhaps worst of all, it would burden the American economy with tax increases as our country attempts to recover from economic hardship,” she said last Wednesday.
The Environment and Public Works Committee is working on its infrastructure plan, which members hope to have ready by Memorial Day.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the Biden administration is open to discussions related to generating revenue.
“Of course, what the President proposed — raising it to 28% — and combined with the other tax proposals would pay for the totality of the package,” she said. “That’s why he felt it was a responsible proposal to make.”
According to a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate Parliamentarian ruled a revised budget resolution may contain reconciliation instructions, opening the door for Senate Democrats to use reconciliation to pass an infrastructure package.