Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Thursday that it was “inevitable” that Democrats would try to move forward with the Democrat-only infrastructure package after President Joe Biden said he will not sign the smaller bipartisan infrastructure package without a guarantee about his larger proposal being passed in the Senate.
“Reconciliation is inevitable because, basically, Republicans I understand on the tax, they don’t want to undo anything on the 2017 [tax reform bill]. For those who didn’t vote for 2017, there should be some adjustments. I’m open to that,” Manchin told reporters.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP would not compromise on undoing the 2017 Tax bill, saying it was “our one red line.”
The reconciliation process would allow the Senate to pass Biden’s broad definition of an infrastructure package, which includes changing the 2017 tax bill, with only 50 votes, meaning Manchin would need to vote along with the rest of the Democrats.
Manchin has been one of two Democrat Senators calling for bipartisanship in crafting and passing any broad legislation, including infrastructure. “Now, more than ever, we must enter a new era of bipartisanship in Washington,” the senator said in a statement in January. “With tight margins in the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans are faced with a decision to either work together to put the priorities of our nation before partisan politics or double down on the dysfunctional tribalism.”
Meanwhile, other Democrat leaders including the president have said they will not let Republicans stand in the way of their legislation.
“I’m not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest that I proposed,” Biden said on Thursday, adding that the Democrat package that seeks to expand the nation’s social safety net is equally important to the bipartisan bill that deals with what is traditionally defined as infrastructure.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference at the Capitol earlier on Thursday that she would not hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill “until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he supports Pelosi’s plan, calling it “a good way to ensure that both ends go forward.”
Manchin told reporters he not sure of what the finished reconciliation bill would look like, but he was certain Democrats were going to do all they can to pass Biden’s economic agenda.
“There’s going to be a reconciliation bill. We just don’t know what size it’s going to be,” he added.
Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), are the only two Democrat senators who have so far refused to support some of the more radical party priorities, including the partisan election bill that would federalize major components of elections, and said they will not undo the filibuster rule, which requires 60 senators to vote to pass legislation.
Sinema penned an op-ed that emphasized why she opposes removing the filibuster. She said she believes “bipartisan cooperation” is the “best way to achieve durable, lasting results.”
“I understand bipartisanship seems outdated to many pundits. But the difficult work of collaboration is what we expect in Arizona. And I still believe it is the best way to identify realistic solutions—instead of escalating all-or-nothing political battles that result in no action, or in whipsawing federal policy reversals,” she wrote, noting that Democrats used the filibuster throughout the Trump administration.
The bipartisan infrastructure deal Biden announced Thursday is projected to cost $973 billion over five years—$579 billion of which is new spending. The total cost would rise to $1.2 trillion if projected over an eight-year span. The new spending will be on building roads, bridges, and highways, as well as power and broadband infrastructure, public transport, and water infrastructure, among other initiatives.
The budget reconciliation that Democrats want to push through Congress involves what Biden proposed in his American Families Plan, which includes spending on home health care and child care, education, and other areas. The measure has been labelled by Democrats “human infrastructure,” as opposed to the bipartisan bill that offers “physical infrastructure.”
Mimi Nguyen LY and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.