Friday 3 September 2021

Joe Manchin urges Democrats to 'hit pause' on Biden's $3.5T budget because during the Afghanistan fiasco and the spike in COVID cases

 Democratic Senator Joe Manchin hit the pause button on President Joe Biden's ambitious plan for a $3.5 trillion budget of social programs, saying he cannot support the legislation.

The senator from West Virginia was expected to be a no vote but he formally made his intentions known in an op-ed published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.

A pivotal, critical vote in the Senate, he called for a 'strategic pause' in spending. 

'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,' he wrote. 

'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. 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,' he added.

Joe Manchin hit the pause button on President Joe Biden's ambitious plan for a $3.5 trillion budget of social programs

Joe Manchin hit the pause button on President Joe Biden's ambitious plan for a $3.5 trillion budget of social programs

In the 50-50 Senate, President Joe Biden needs every Democratic vote

In the 50-50 Senate, President Joe Biden needs every Democratic vote

Lawmakers will work this week to start crafting the particulars of the $3.5 trillion budget deal, which will impact the nation's education, health care and tax laws.

Manchin left the door open to supporting a smaller package that supports social programs like free pre-K, expanded paid family and medical leave and climate issues. But he said the amount of government spending tied to the coronavirus pandemic and fears about inflation had him worried about more money.

'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,' he noted. 

Given the 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrats need every one of their senators to vote their way. Without Manchin's support, the $3.5 trillion budget package is doomed.

Manchin and his fellow moderate Senator Kyrsten Sinema had been raising concerns about the price tag. In the other wing of the party, liberals said the spending wasn't high enough. 

Progressive House Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib slammed Machin's decision.

'Manchin has weekly huddles w/ Exxon & is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called “bipartisan” fossil fuel bills. It’s killing people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this “bipartisan” corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation,' Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

'Instead of writing op-eds, why don't you look into the faces of my residents who have had their basements flooded with sewage multiple times and their power out for days, Senator Manchin. We deserve better,' Tlaib wrote. 

Democrats plan to pass the budget by the reconciliation process, which allows them to bypass the need for Republican support. 

In remarks Wednesday to the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's annual business summit, Manchin added Afghanistan to his concerns about ramping up federal spending.

'I want to be able to take care of our military that can defend us anywhere in the world if it's called upon. I want to make sure our economy is still robust. I want to make sure we're bringing manufacturing back in opportunities,' he said. 

He also revealed he told Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders last month he was a no vote on the $3.5 trillion price tag.

'He looked at me and said, 'you going to vote for the three-and-a-half trillion?' I said, 'hell no Bernie I'm not voting for three-and-a-half trillion,'' Manchin noted. 

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