Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key swing vote for the Democrats’ agenda, didn’t say whether he would vote on a Democrat-backed $3.5 trillion spending bill.
For weeks, congressional Democrats have floated passing the White House-backed measure via the budget reconciliation process, which allows them to overcome a possible Republican filibuster and approve it with a simple majority. However, if even one Democrat senator votes “no,” it’s likely the bill will fail in the upper chamber.
“I can’t really guarantee anybody, and I have not guaranteed anybody on any of these pieces of legislation,” Manchin said during a CNN interview. “They would like to do more, yeah you can do what you can pay for … let’s start the process and then see where it goes.”
Some left-wing Democrats in the House have threatened to derail the White House-backed $1 trillion infrastructure bill that could be passed with bipartisan support in the Senate, saying that the $3.5 trillion bill has to be passed along with the smaller package.
The $3.5 trillion bill contains climate-related regulations, anti-poverty initiatives, and amnesty for illegal immigrants. Republicans in Congress have raised red flags about the bill, saying it would bring the United States closer to socialism and expand the national debt even further.
During the Sunday interview, Manchin responded to threats from left-wing Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y), who warned that “if there is not a reconciliation bill in the House and if the Senate does not pass a reconciliation bill, we will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in.”
“We should just work in good faith and be honest with each other, so no one is misled in any way, shape, or form,” said Manchin in response, adding that he believes the $3.5 trillion bill will be far more expensive than advertised. “And there should be no quid pro quo, ‘you do this, I’ll do this.’”
Manchin added that “some of these programs that they’re going to be putting in place could be in perpetuity … with perpetuity, [the total package] could be $5 trillion or more.”
On Sunday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she believes the $1 trillion infrastructure bill has the support of at least 10 Republican senators and suggested it could pass the upper chamber soon.
“I think we will be able to lay down the bill later today and begin perhaps consideration of some amendments,” Collins said during a CNN interview. “My hope is that we’ll finish the bill by the end of the week.”