Moderate Senate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced on Sunday that he won't support President Biden's $3.5 trillion economic spending plan, telling NBC's "Meet The Press" that he doesn't want to rush into a fiscally irresponsible deal.
"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, adding "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."
Manchin also said that if he were writing the bill from scratch, he'd start by adjusting the tax code.
Manchin also appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, where he said he simply wouldn't support the $3.5 trillion package.
"(Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer) will not have my vote on $3.5 (trillion) and Chuck knows that, and we've talked about this," he said. "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? What's the urgency that we have? It's not the same urgency that we had with the American Rescue Plan. We got that out the door quickly. That was about $2 trillion."
Sen. Joe Manchin on CNN says he will not vote for the $3.5 infrastructure bill pic.twitter.com/Czhm7KpStX— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 12, 2021
Manchin echoed his suggestion earlier this month that Congress 'pause' progress on their spending bill in order to come up with a more responsible plan.
"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. Something's not matching up. Don't you think we ought to hit the pause and find out? The vulnerability that we have right now, we don't know what happened with this Covid, it's awful coming back the way it is with a vengeance," he told CNN. "We don't know about inflation, we know it's running rampant right now, I can tell you in West Virginia inflation is running rampant, and on top of that, the challenges we're going to have, geopolitical challenges, shouldn't we be prepared?"
He also said that he doesn't think Democrats can pass the economic bill by the Sept. 27 deadline laid out by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
"There's no way we can get this done by the 27th if we do our job," he said. "There's so much differences that we have here and so much, there's so much apart from us to where we are as far as our I'm giving you different things, I've been talking, I've been working with people, I'm going to talk to people, that makes no sense at all."
Last Wednesday Axios reported that Manchin had been privately telling people he wouldn't support more than $1.5 trillion of the $3.5 trillion economic blueprint, and he'll support as little as $1 trillion of it. As we noted at the time, given Democrats' razor-thin 50-50 Senate (with VP Kamala Harris being the tie-breaker), Manchin has the power to effectively block the legislation if no Republicans cross the aisle - and his line in the sand would mean a hard ceiling for Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda which includes a laundry list of progressive priorities, including universal preschool and free community college.