OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin just gave Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats the news they did not want to hear.
On Sunday he said that he cannot support the Democrats $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill and, he said, Senate Majority Leader and New York Sen. Charles Schumer knows it.
“We don’t have the need to rush into this and get it done within one week because there’s some deadline we’re meeting or someone’s going to fall through the cracks,” he said during an interview on the NBC show “Meet the Press.”
“I want to make sure that children are getting taken care of, that people are basically having an opportunity to go back to work. We have 11 million jobs that we haven’t filled, 8 million people still unemployed. Something’s not matching up there,” he said.
He said if he were to pen the bill from scratch he would have started with changing the tax code.
When he appeared on the CNN show “State of the Union,” he told host Dana Bash that he did not support the timeline the Democrats want.
He said that Sen. Schumer “will not have my vote, and Chuck knows that.”
Manchin has expressed his reservations about the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill in the past.
“I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs,” the senator said.
“This is even more important now as the Social Security and Medicare Trustees have sounded the alarm that these life-saving programs will be insolvent and benefits could start to be reduced as soon as 2026 for Medicare and 2033, a year earlier than previously projected, for Social Security,” he said.
“Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation. A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not,” Manchin said. “While some have suggested this reconciliation legislation must be passed now, I believe that making budgetary decisions under artificial political deadlines never leads to good policy or sound decisions. I have always said if I can’t explain it, I can’t vote for it, and I can’t explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion.”
“An overheating economy has imposed a costly “inflation tax” on every middle- and working-class American. At $28.7 trillion and growing, the nation’s debt has reached record levels. Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt or the inevitability of future crises,” Manchin said. “Those who believe such concerns are overstated should ask themselves: What do we do if the pandemic gets worse under the next viral mutation? What do we do if there is a financial crisis like the one that led to the Great Recession? What if we face a terrorist attack or major international conflict? How will America respond to such crises if we needlessly spend trillions of dollars today?”
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 last month.
“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.