Manchin holds Biden, Democrats on toes over mega bill

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Manchin

Despite grave reservations over President Joe Biden’s climate and social spending bill, Joe Manchin still is at the negotiating table.

Manchin said he was still “engaged” in talks after speaking with Biden on Monday afternoon. And as he exited the Capitol, the tenured Democratic senator remained categorical that he was not likely to commit to voting for or against a bill that was still being negotiated behind closed doors.

Manchin stated Monday evening that there’s a need to examine the bill at the very least. He’s curious as to what they write and the final print. That says it all.

With Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pressing for action before Christmas, Biden and Manchin’s Monday afternoon phone call came at a vital time. And Manchin is quietly and publicly expressing reservations about the $1.7 trillion social spending bill.

Manchin previews meeting President Biden over the bill.

As an indication of the negotiating process’s fluidity, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said that Biden and Manchin would meet again in the “coming days.”

Manchin
Manchin

The West Virginia centrist is the sole dissenter from the party-line bill in a 50-50 Senate, and he is concerned about mounting debt, escalating inflation, and the package’s actual costs, praising a Friday Congressional Budget Office assessment on the bill’s probable 10-year costs, which the GOP requested. Before Monday’s phone chat, he did not seem as if he was poised to send the Democratic legislation to Biden’s desk without serious amendments.

Manchin told reporters in a message to Democratic colleagues that everyone has to choose what we can sustain.  

Schumer stated clearly Monday that he will abide by his schedule. On the floor, the majority leader said that Democrats would keep working with the parliamentarian and finalizing the social spending bill this week, adding that Democrats are “working diligently to position the Senate to pass the legislation before Christmas.”

Manchin did not appeal to Schumer to delay the bill’s discussion until January, nor did he express a willingness to vote against anything. Instead, he is still speaking with his colleagues and keeping his options open, in true Manchin style.

Manchin stated emphatically that he isn’t in charge. And regarding Schumer’s timetable, Manchin added that perhaps they’d accomplish everything this week.

Two recent reports have exacerbated Manchin’s economic angst. First, according to the CBO, if the Democrats’ bill’s provisions are extended, the deficit would increase by $3 trillion. Additionally, consumer prices increased significantly in November, propelling inflation to its highest level since 1982. Democrats and the White House say that the bill’s provisions will be paid for when it is extended and that inflation has reached a trough and will soon begin to decline.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source concerned with Manchin’s thinking said Monday he’s still concerned about inflation and the timing, 

Besides his concerns, Manchin listened to the President Monday afternoon as the rest of Washington awaited the meeting outcome between the two Joes. He made a point of referring to Biden as a “friend” and lauding the President’s 36-year tenure as a senator.

The President argues in case of the legislation.

However, Biden does not appear to share Manchin’s reservations at the moment. Instead, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would make a case for why the President believes the legislation should move through.

Manchin
Manchin

Following the discussion, Manchin’s office issued a statement indicating that Senator Manchin and President Biden had a fruitful talk, and they will continue to communicate over the coming few days.

Senate Democrats are still scrambling behind the scenes to put together a bill that could see floor action this year, despite Manchin’s remarks casting further doubt on Schumer’s capacity to meet his Christmas deadline. Two committees released revised legislative text over the weekend. The document omitted a future deal on state and local taxes and featured paid leave, which Manchin wishes to omit from the social spending bill.

Perhaps more alarming for Democrats is Manchin’s criticism of the bill’s overall layout. As is customary in Congress, several of the Democratic provisions would be short-lived – in the case of the expanded child credit, after just one year. Manchin believes Democrats should anticipate that those programs will be extended, increasing the bill’s overall cost over time.

“If we do not, if we are not transparent and accurate, how do we earn money?” So we return for another mouthful and additional funding? Or do we throw caution to the wind and resort to debt financing, as both parties have done for far too long?” Monday, Manchin stated.

He did not leave it there. Manchin also stated that he wants a share of the money Democrats are generating through increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy to go toward debt repayment and ask the Federal Reserve to reduce its quantitative easing program, one of his core requests extending back to July.

Meanwhile, Manchin’s reluctance has his colleagues speculating exactly how the next several days will unfold.

Sen Chris Coons (D-Del. ), a close aide to Biden, said that landing the jet is a significant task; it’s a momentous occasion. “However, he’s confident that President Biden is a highly persuasive leader.

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