Manchin Could Vote Against Biden’s Social Safety Net, Citing Key Flaws.

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Manchin

Sen. Joe Manchin has indicated he will not back Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion bill until there is “some clarity” over the bill’s impact on the national debt and economy, raising serious doubt on President Joe Biden’s capacity to carry his agenda through Congress.

Manchin raised fundamental issues over Biden and his party’s approach to their sweeping agenda during a news conference on Monday afternoon. He slammed the party’s push to expand social programs. He chided Democrats for applying “gimmicks” to conceal the plan’s actual price, arguing that much more time is required to assess the plan’s economic impact and mitigate any negative implications.

After months of prodding by the White House to secure Manchin’s support, including halving the cost and dropping essential programs, the West Virginia moderate’s statements signal that Democrats may never win his support for this idea.

Manchin warned his party that he is willing to support a final bill that advances the country, but he’s equally keen to vote against a bill that harms the country.

The remarks come at a pivotal juncture in Biden’s agenda and deal a significant setback to party leaders who had sought to pass the social safety net plan alongside a separate $1 trillion infrastructure bill immediately. Democratic leaders have been pushing to pass both bills this week, pertinent to Biden’s agenda.

Since Biden unveiled a blueprint, Manchin has been evasive on the social spending package but has indicated reservations about some proposals, notably Medicare expansion.

On Monday, Manchin sharply slammed the plan’s financing and cost.

Manchin stated that as more of the actual details outlined in the basic framework become public, what he sees are shell games and budget gimmicks that increase the actual cost of this ostensibly $1.75 trillion bill to twice that amount if programs are extended or made permanent.

He also blasted his colleagues for advancing a bill that could increase the national debt.

Manchin
Manchin

Manchin added that, simply put; he will not support a bill of that magnitude unless he has complete knowledge of the implications on the national debt, the economy, and most importantly, on the entire American people.

He later stated, to be clear, he will not support reconciliation legislation until he understands how it will affect the debt, economy, and country. That will become clear as democrats work their way through the text.

Party leaders have been pressing the House to pass a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Still, progressives have blocked that effort thus far by demanding a concurrent vote on the broader but not yet finalized social safety net plan.

On Monday, Manchin implored the House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and told progressives that “holding the bill hostage” would not work to secure his support for the broader social spending and economic package.

For one, Manchin stated that he would not support a multibillion-dollar bill unless Congress explains why it continues to overlook the serious effects of inflation and debt on the economy and existing government programs.

Manchin speaks out

Manchin was frustrated that Hill Democrats were pressuring him to endorse the $1.75 trillion plan wholeheartedly — and he wanted to be clear about his position as he was being lobbied to support adding even more social programs to the plan, according to a source familiar with his thinking.

He was also enraged that progressives assumed they could coerce him into supporting the plan by withholding backing for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, the source claimed.

Manchin, the source added, also objected to last-minute amendments to the proposed social safety net funding.

In sum, he didn’t want to be obliged to promote something he wasn’t willing to support.

Manchin
Manchin

The White House and some Democrats playoff woes

The White House stated that it is optimistic Biden’s spending plan will secure Manchin’s backing amid his casting doubt on his intentions during a press conference.

Press secretary Jen Psaki stated that experts concur: Seventeen Nobel Laureates in economics have noted that the plan will help cut inflation. As a result, the White House remains optimistic that Senator Manchin will approve the plan. 

Press secretary Jen Psaki stated that experts concur: Seventeen Nobel Laureates in economics have noted that the plan will help cut inflation. As a result, the White House remains optimistic that Senator Manchin will approve the plan. 

When asked to reply to Manchin’s critique of the social safety net plan in an interview on CNN’s “Newsroom,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, expressed confidence in President Biden’s ability to negotiate a deal.

Rep. Jayapal stated that she’s deferring such conversations to the President. The President addressed the caucus and told them that he would secure 51 Senate votes for the deal he negotiated with Senators Manchin and Sinema.

She stated that they have faith in the President’s ability to secure 51 votes for the deal.

Jayapal expressed hope that the House might pass the infrastructure bill and a broader social safety net bill this week.

According to a person familiar with the subject, House Democratic leaders consider bringing social spending and infrastructure legislation to the floor for final votes as soon as Wednesday night or Thursday. However, it is possible that the timing will slip.

Democrats intend to pass the plan through a process known as budget reconciliation, which would enable them to pass the measure in the Senate without the support of the Republican Party. However, they would need the backing of all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus. This dynamic has endowed Manchin and another key moderate senator, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, with disproportionate influence in the process.

Manchin
Manchin

The plan would entail a large investment in core liberal priorities and an expansion of the social safety net. It would prioritize improving access to health care, combating climate change, and increasing assistance to families, among other elements, and serves as the cornerstone of the President’s domestic agenda.

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