CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. — noting he will not play “shell games” with President Joe Biden’s domestic policy proposal — on Monday urged the House of Representatives to pass the Senate’s infrastructure bill.
Manchin’s remarks to reporters came with the senator remaining a key vote in advancing the $1.75 trillion proposal. Manchin has been involved in discussions with Democratic colleagues and the White House about the plan, in which he has shared concerns over the possible effects on the national debt and inflation.
“As I’ve said before, holding that bill hostage is not going to work to get my support of what you want. It’s what we should all agree on and work through the process,” he said. “I’m open to supporting a final bill that moves the country forward, but I’m equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country.”
The Biden administration and Democratic leaders have been trying to unite legislators to support the domestic policy proposal since lawmakers announced the original $3.5 trillion plan in August. Manchin stated he opposed the first plan’s cost in addition to provisions on clean energy and climate change, paid family leave and child care credits.
According to the White House, the latest framework would help the United States reduce greenhouse gas emissions; produce job training opportunities in public health, manufacturing and clean energy; and provide health insurance tax credits through 2025. More than 94,000 West Virginia children would have access to early child care, and families would be eligible for child tax credits.
The proposal also includes tax increases affecting wealthy Americans and corporations.
House Democrats have pushed for passing the Senate infrastructure bill and the domestic policy proposal together, arguing Manchin and fellow Democrat Krysten Sinema of Arizona should commit to the $1.75 trillion proposal before the House takes up the bipartisan infrastructure framework.
“For the sake of the country, I urge the House to vote and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill,” he said. “Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill.”
The Senate passed the infrastructure proposal 69-30 in August; Manchin and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted for the bill, with Capito being one of 19 Republicans to support passage.
During a press conference with reporters last week, Capito noted frustration toward the House for not passing the infrastructure measure. She has previously shared opposition toward the domestic policy proposal.
Manchin said discussions with Biden, congressional leaders and Democratic colleagues on the domestic policy proposal have been fruitful. He emphasized to reporters the arguments he has made in negotiations, including the reconciliation proposal’s financial effects.
“Simply put, I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact that it will have about the national debt, our economy, and most importantly, all of our American people,” he said. “Every elected representative needs to know what they are voting for and the impact it has not only on their constituents but the entire country.”
Manchin added legislators need to be open about the proposal’s cost.
“As more of the real details outlining the basic framework are released, what I see are shell games, budget gimmicks that make the real costs of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be twice that amount if the full time is run out if you extended it permanently,” he said.
“This is a recipe for economic crisis. None of us should misrepresent to the American people what the real costs of legislation is. Well, I’ve worked hard to find a path to compromise that’s obvious. Compromise is not good enough for a lot of my colleagues in Congress. It’s all or nothing, and their position doesn’t seem to change unless we agree to everything. Enough is enough.”
Manchin has suggested the proposal address problems with the 2017 tax law. The senator has previously stated he would not oppose changing the tax code as he did not support the law four years ago.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated the White House remains confident Manchin will support the domestic policy proposal. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said legislators are continuing to make progress in getting both bills to Biden’s desk.
Democrats cannot afford to lose any votes in the split Senate. The party maintains an eight-seat majority in the House.