WASHINGTON – After weeks of uncertainty as to what he might support, Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) began on Thursday to outline some of his specific demands for the ‘Build Back Better’ bill that Democrats consider it vital to their heritage.
Manchin’s stance, which he first confirmed on Thursday, is far below what progressives and President Joe Biden are looking for. Progressives initially pushed for a $ 6 trillion package. Democrats then reduced their proposal to $ 3.5 trillion, but moderates like Manchin never signed.
“My turnover was $ 1.5 [trillion]”Manchin told reporters the maximum expenses he is willing to support, confirming a Political report that Manchin sealed a deal on that number with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) in July.
“He would like to have a lot more than that,” Manchin said of Biden, with whom he negotiated in the White House this week. If progressives want to pass a bigger bill, Manchin added, “they should elect more liberals.”
Biden won the presidency, by a wide margin, in part by campaigning on policies Democrats struggle to get Manchin to support.
Although he has now passed a high number, that still leaves tons of uncertainty as to what his policies might support in the bill.
Democrats want to make free community colleges and preschool universally available. They want to continue the monthly payments to most households with children that started this summer. They want to expand health care coverage for the elderly and the poor. And they want new subsidies for green energy.
Manchin hasn’t publicly rejected any of these ideas, but complained on Thursday that too many new perks would make the American people limp.
“I cannot accept that our economy or fundamentally our society is moving towards a legal mentality,” Manchin said Thursday. “Because I’m more rewarding – because I can help those who really need help if those who can help themselves do it.”
The comment on the “right” is a throwback to an earlier time, before last year’s bipartisan agreement on sending pandemic relief checks, even to the poorest households. Democrats wanted their new policies to continue reaching those with the lowest incomes.
As for meeting the frontline number, Democrats have options. They could exclude low-income and high-income households from new benefits with “job demands” and “means tests,” as Manchin suggested. But they could also save on the cost of the bill by shortening the official duration of various proposals, for example by saying that benefits stop in 2024 even if the ultimate goal is to make them permanent. Progressives favor the latter option.
“There are many varieties [of the bill] I can vote for, ”Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Told HuffPost. “I don’t have a list of non-negotiable demands. I just want to do it.
The typed deal Manchin and Schumer both signed in July outlining Manchin’s demands said Manchin will not guarantee the vote for the reconciliation bill if it exceeds $ 1.5 trillion. It also includes a written note from Schumer, stating, “I’ll try to talk Joe out of a lot of them.”
A spokesperson for Schumer confirmed the authenticity of the document and sought to downplay his boss’s signature.
“As the document notes, Leader Schumer never agreed to any of the conditions set out by Senator Manchin; he simply recognized where Senator Manchin was on the subject at the time, ”the spokesperson said in a statement. As stated in the document, Senator Manchin did not rule out voting for a reconciliation bill that went beyond the ideas he had outlined, and Chief Schumer made it clear that he would work to convince the Senator Manchin to support a final reconciliation bill, as he has been doing for weeks.
For months, Manchin refused to publicly declare his preference for the cost of the reconciliation package. When asked on Wednesday why he wasn’t more transparent about his requests for reconciliation, Manchin said he was “trying to honor my deal” with Schumer.
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