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Democrat Sens. Manchin, Sinema Stand In The Way Of $3.5 Trillion Biden Package

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


If Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader and New York Sen. Charles Schumer think that they are going to get everything they want from their new budget package they better think again.

Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has already indicated that he has deep concerns about the $3.5 million price tag and how it could affect future generations.

“Early this morning, I voted ‘YES’ on a procedural vote to move forward on the budget reconciliation process because I believe it is important to discuss the fiscal policy future of this country. However, I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion,” Sen. Manchin said on Wednesday.

“Over the past year, Congress has injected more than $5 trillion of stimulus into the American economy – more than any time since World War II – to respond to the pandemic. The challenge we now face is different: millions of jobs remain unfilled across the country and rising inflation rates are now an unavoidable tax on the wages and income of every American. These are not indications of an economy that requires trillions in additional spending. Every elected leader is chosen to make difficult decisions. Adding trillions of dollars more to nearly $29 trillion of national debt, without any consideration of the negative effects on our children and grandchildren, is one of those decisions that has become far too easy in Washington.

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“Given the current state of the economic recovery, it is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or Great Recession – not an economy that is on the verge of overheating. More importantly, I firmly believe that continuing to spend at irresponsible levels puts at risk our nation’s ability to respond to the unforeseen crises our country could face. I urge my colleagues to seriously consider this reality as this budget process unfolds in the coming weeks and months,” he said.

And the deal is also likely to face a tough challenge from Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema even as she voted in favor of the procedural vote on Wednesday.

“I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion—and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead,” she said to The Arizona Republic last month as she said she would vote to begin debate on the package, which she did.

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She immediately faced negative responses from “Squad” members, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“Time for the White House to play hardball. We didn’t elect Sinema as President and we won’t let her obstruction put a Republican in the Oval Office in 2024. It’s the reconciliation bill or GOP controlling every level of government again, period,” Tlaib said.

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But Sen. Schumer celebrated the deal moving forward to begin debate. And he added that Democrats would make voting rights the first order of business when they come back.

“Voting rights, voting rights, will be the first matter of legislative business when the Senate returns to session in September. Our democracy demands no less,” he said.

“It is my intention that the first amendment to the bill would be the text of a compromise bill that a group of senators are working on. Let me be very clear, this is a debate the Senate must have,” he said.

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But Sen. Manchin could stand in his way on that too.

“I have made it crystal clear that I do not support the For the People Act. Over the past few months, I have worked to eliminate the far-reaching aspects of that bill and amend the legislation to make sure our elections are fair, accessible and secure,” he said.

And, in what should have Republicans breathing a sigh of relief, he said he would support “commonsense voter ID requirements”  and would not stand in the way of “any guardrails” on mail-in voting or stopping any local election officials from doing “basic maintenance of voter rolls.”

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