CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., says he’s confident there is a 50 percent chance lawmakers can pass President Joe Biden’s social spending framework, also called the “Build Back Better” bill, as negotiations continue this week on Capitol Hill.
“I’m trying to find a pathway forward. I just want transparency,” Manchin said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Manchin and Senator Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., remain key votes in advancing the proposal.
The reason why Manchin cannot get on board with the plan as it stands is because he believes the $1.75 trillion price tag is too large. He said Tuesday he did not sign off on the framework because he doesn’t know how it will be paid for.
“When people tell you that we’re going to raise $1.75 trillion and it’s paying for all these things, the 10 years that you’re raising the money might only be paying for one year of service,” Manchin said.
“They’re hoping that when one, two or three years come they’ll be so popular you can’t get rid of them. Perfect example: Obamacare.”
Biden’s plan would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions; create job training opportunities in public health, manufacturing and clean energy. It will also provide child tax credits through 2025, among other things.
Manchin said he’s not willing to budge on social services because it could be misleading.
“I’m not going to expand social programs that we can’t even pay for what we have,” he said. “I’m going to work with you after we stabilize. I’m not going to pile on debt or make people believe we’re going to do things we’re not.”
Before the President arrived overseas for the UN Climate Summit Monday, Manchin urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate approved in August, but he said lawmakers ignored it.
“I waited until the plane landed yesterday in Glasgow, Scotland. There was no movement on that bill. I just said enough is enough. If you think you’re holding me hostage, you’re not going to do that,” he said.
Meanwhile, progressive Democrats in the House said they won’t vote for the infrastructure bill without voting on the Build Back Better plan.
The White House said Monday they feel confident that Manchin will get onboard. Manchin said discussions with the president, congressional leaders and Democratic colleagues are ongoing.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also appeared on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” to offer Manchin “moral support.”
“I think that he’s helping make the process slower and hopefully better,” Capito said.
Capito said she cannot support the president’s reconciliation framework because she doesn’t believe there’s a clear number of how much the plan will cost.
“I don’t think it’s well thought out. We don’t even really know what’s in it,” she said. “It’s almost like they can’t spend enough money. It’s exhausting.”
The Democrats have made a strategic error, Capito said, with House Speaker Pelosi holding the infrastructure bill “hostage.”
“This is really hurting the president. It’s hurting the country. It’s hurting a lot of job creation that goes along with the bipartisan infrastructure package, but they are determined to tie these two bills together and that’s where you begin to lose support from the Republican side,” Capito said.
Both Manchin and Capito voted for the infrastructure bill to fix the nation’s roads and bridges and to expand broadband in rural areas of West Virginia.
On Tuesday, the leader of the House Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington, said her colleagues were ready to vote. Jayapal didn’t specifically address the comments made by Manchin this week, but she said that the framework is paid for and has been vetted.