Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin categorically said Sunday he will not support President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan and said there was no chance the measure could get approved by Sept. 27 as Democratic leaders want. “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,” Manchin said on NBC’s Meet the Press. Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Manchin said, “There’s no way we can get this done by the 27th if we do our job.”
Manchin, a crucial Democratic vote in the evenly divided Senate, said Democratic leaders were well aware of his stance on the $3.5 trillion price tag. “We’ve already put out $5.4 trillion and we’ve tried to help Americans in every way we possibly can and a lot of the help that we’ve put out there is still there and it’s going to run clear until next year, 2022, so what’s the urgency?” Manchin asked on CNN’s State of the Union. During the interview, Manchin hinted at what the dollar amount would be that he could support. “It’s going to be $1, $1.5 [trillion]. We don’t know where it’s going to be. It’s not going to be at $3.5 [trillion], I can assure you,” Manchin said after CNN’s Dana Bash pressed him multiple times on what number he would support.
The Senator from West Virginia made clear that he would only support the up to $1.5 trillion price tag if the bill maintains a “globally competitive” tax code. “The numbers they’re wanting to pay for it and the tax changes they want to make, is that competitive? Does it keep us competitive or not? I believe there are some changes made that do not keep us competitive,” Manchin added. Details aside, Manchin says everyone needs to slow down to figure out how to best target any more economic stimulus. “So we have done an awful lot, and there’s still an awful lot of people that need help but there are still 11 million jobs that aren’t filled right now. Eight million people are still unemployed,” he said. “Something’s not matching up. Don’t you think we ought to hit the pause and find out?” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this month, Manchin said that “Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders quickly blasted Manchin for his stance. “No, it is absolutely not acceptable to me,” Sanders said on CNN when asked about the $1.5 trillion ceiling that Manchin outlined. “I don’t think it’s acceptable to the president, to the American people, or to the overwhelming majority of the people in the Democratic Caucus.” Sanders said progressives had already compromised plenty. “Many of us made a major compromise in going from the $6 trillion bill that we wanted, supported by the overwhelming majority of Democrats, down to 3.5,” the Vermont senator said.