With the White House still in talks on a bipartisan infrastructure bill that focuses on core infrastructure needs, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who favors bipartisanship, said on Tuesday that he’s supportive of going forward with a larger infrastructure bill that received zero Republican support, but that it shouldn’t be tied to the bipartisan one.
Manchin last week indicated that Democrats will need to use the reconciliation process to move their multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill forward mainly because GOP members are unwilling to budge on the 2017 tax bill changes that are included in it.
During a Tuesday interview on MSNBC, Manchin again said the reconciliation process, which allows Democrats to pass the bill with a simple majority, will need to be used to pass the broad “human infrastructure” package.
“We’re going to have to work it through reconciliation, which I’ve agreed that that can be done. I just haven’t agreed on the amount, because I haven’t seen everything that everyone is wanting to put in the bill,” Manchin said.
Currently, both the smaller and larger infrastructure bills are being considered by the White House. Democrats need all 50 Democrat senators to vote in favor of the larger partisan infrastructure package in order for the reconciliation process to be successful.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday told reporters at a press briefing that President Joe Biden has from the beginning been open that both infrastructure packages were being considered.
“You all have heard the President say multiple times publicly that he wanted to, he was going to move these bills forward, wanted to move them forward in parallel paths, and that’s exactly what’s happening,” said Psaki.
“I will say that the President’s view is that the public, the American people, elected him to not lead on process, but to get things done,” she added. “The leaders in House and Senate are going to determine the sequencing, the timeline, and he looks forward to signing both pieces of legislation.”
Meanwhile, progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asserted that he is not going to sign a bipartisan infrastructure bill without the Democrats’ sweeping human infrastructure package passed through reconciliation.
“Let me be clear: There will not be a bipartisan infrastructure deal without a reconciliation bill that substantially improves the lives of working families and combats the existential threat of climate change. No reconciliation bill, no deal. We need transformative change NOW,” he said on Twitter Sunday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Monday that he remains undecided on whether to back even the bipartisan bill due to concerns about how the package will be paid for.
McConnell made the remarks at a press conference in Louisville, in response to a reporter asking whether he would support the $1.2 trillion package, which was hammered out last week by 10 senators—five from each party—who met with Biden at the White House.
Biden drew the ire of Republicans when, hours after announcing the bipartisan agreement, he said he saw the bill as linked to other legislation Democrats want to push through without Republican support, saying, “if only one comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem.”
Offering an opposing view from Sanders, Manchin said during Tuesday’s interview that lawmakers should not link the two bills.
“Saying I’m going to not vote for the other one because you haven’t guaranteed the vote for everything, we’ve never done legislation that way. I’ve never been a part of it in 10 years I’ve been in the Senate,” Manchin said, adding, “We’re working on (the bipartisan bill) now, so I would hope that everyone would look at this (as) it’s something we can do. It’s doable in a bipartisan way. Take that victory.”
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.