Manchin hesitates over Biden’s plan and pushes back progressives | WGN 720 radio
WASHINGTON (AP) – Senator Joe Manchin hesitated on Monday over his support for President Joe Biden’s sweeping $ 1.75 trillion domestic policy proposal, saying it was instead “time to vote” on a package of $ 1 trillion thinner infrastructure that stagnated amid talks.
The West Virginia Democrat’s announcement comes as Democrats want a signal from Manchin that he will support Biden’s big package. He is one of two main recalcitrant senators whose votes are needed to secure the deal and get it through.
Instead, Manchin pushed back on progressive Democrats, urging them to stop holding the small public works bill “hostage” as negotiations continue on the larger package.
“Enough is enough,” Manchin said at a hastily called press conference on Capitol Hill.
Manchin said he was ready to vote for a final bill reflecting Biden’s big package “that keeps our country moving.” But he said he was “also open to voting against” the end product as he assessed the sweeping social services and climate change bill.
Democrats have been working frantically to complete Biden’s national signing package after months of negotiations, rushing to a possible first round of House votes later this week.
The White House was quick to respond that it remained confident Manchin would support Biden’s plan.
“Senator Manchin says he is ready to support a Build Back Better plan that fights inflation, is fiscally responsible and will create jobs,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. âAccordingly, we remain confident that the plan will win the support of Senator Manchin. “
The stakes are high with Biden abroad at a global climate change summit and his party battling in two key governors’ races this week – in Virginia and New Jersey – which are seen as indicators of the political mood of the electorate.
With Republicans staunchly opposed and no votes to spare, Democrats tried to unite progressive and centrist lawmakers around Biden’s grand vision.
Progressives refused to vote on the small public works bill, using it as leverage to try to secure commitments from Manchin and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the other key obstacle, for the Biden’s larger bill.
Manchin, however, said he “would not support such a large bill without fully understanding the impact” it has on the economy and the federal debt. He wants Democrats to push forward the public works bill on roads, highways and broadband projects that had already been approved by the Senate, but which is stalled by House progressives as negotiations continue. wide are in progress.
“This is not the way the US Congress should work,” Manchin said. âIt is time for our elected leaders in Washington to stop playing games. “
Biden’s top national priorities have been a battleground between progressive and moderate Democrats for months, and it was not clear whether this timeline could be met.
The package would provide large numbers of Americans with help paying for health care, upbringing, child rearing, and home care for the elderly. It would also offer tax breaks encouraging cleaner energy and electrified vehicles.
Much of its costs would be covered by higher taxes on people earning more than $ 10 million a year and large corporations.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Leader of the Progressive Caucus, said she was confident Biden would have the necessary support for the move.
“I hope the president will keep his promises,” Jayapal told CNN.
Over the weekend, Democrats made significant progress towards adding compromise provisions limiting prescription drug prices to their huge social and environmental package, two congressional advisers said Sunday. They requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing negotiations.
Talks continued and no final agreement had been reached. But the move raised hopes that the party’s 10-year $ 1.75 trillion measure would fulfill the Democratic campaign’s long-standing promise to cut pharmaceutical costs, albeit more modestly than some wanted.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.
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