Sen. Manchin Backs ‘Targeted’ Infrastructure Bill, Opposes Reconciliation

April 25, 2021 Updated: April 25, 2021

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on April 25 he would support passing a smaller infrastructure bill with bipartisan support, appearing to oppose the scope of President Joe Biden’s plan.

In an interview with CNN, the Democratic senator said that he prefers a “more targeted” measure that would incorporate broadband internet, roads, and other traditional infrastructure needs. When asked if he would back another bill with other related spending via a Senate process called reconciliation, he replied, “No.”

“I’m not a roadblock at all. The best politics is good government. I can’t believe that people believe that if you just do it my way, that will give us the momentum to get through the next election,” Manchin told CNN. “We won’t give this system a chance to work. I’m not going to be part of blowing up this Senate of ours, or basically this democracy of ours, or the Republic that we have.”

In the divided 50–50 Senate, Manchin—whose state overwhelmingly favored former President Donald Trump over Biden during the 2020 election—is seen as a key swing vote. He previously balked at Democrats’ plans to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster that’s designed to protect the rights of the minority party.

Manchin praised the GOP’s smaller, more targeted counterproposal to Biden’s infrastructure plan.

“That’s a good start. It really is and I’m glad they did it because it came out of the [Committee on Environment and Public Works] which has [Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)] as chairman, and my colleague [Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)] is basically the ranking member,” he said. “They worked it together so we know it has bipartisan support, we just have to look to see if we’ve gotten everything in there that we need.”

Last week, Manchin appeared to disagree with what constitutes “infrastructure,” as Biden’s administration and some top Democrats have tried to shift the meaning of the term away from facilities and structures such as buildings, roads, bridges, water pipes, and power supplies required to organize a society.

“What we think the greatest need we have now, that can be done in a bipartisan way, is conventional infrastructure whether it’s the water, sewer, roads, bridges, internet—things that we know need to be repaired, be fixed,” Manchin said at a press conference.

“There is not a greater common cause than infrastructure,” Manchin also said on April 23. “If we can’t come together on infrastructure in the most toxic atmosphere we’ve had in Washington, then we’re in trouble.”