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Manchin Urges Vote on Infrastructure Bill
Support for Reconciliation Bill Still Uncertain

November 1, 2021 by Dan McCue
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks with reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday that he is not yet ready to support the slimmed down $1.75 trillion budget reconciliation bill, but urged his colleagues to move forward with a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package “for the good of the country.”

During his mid-afternoon remarks, Manchin directly addressed members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, many of whom have said they won’t support the separate bipartisan infrastructure package until they get his commitment to support the reconciliation deal.

“It is time to vote the bipartisan infrastructure bill up or down and go home to explain your decision,” he said, adding, “Holding this bill hostage won’t work to get my support for the reconciliation bill.”

As for the reconciliation package itself, Manchin asked his fellow lawmakers to “allow time” for a complete analysis of the impact of changes it would make to the nation’s tax codes and energy policies.

“I, for one, also won’t support a multi trillion-dollar bill without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on our economy and existing government programs,” he said.

“For example, how can I in good conscience vote for a bill that proposes massive expansion to social programs, when vital programs like Social Security and Medicare face insolvency and benefits could start to be reduced as soon as 2026 for Medicare and 2033 for Social Security?” Manchin said. 

“How does this make sense? It doesn’t. Meanwhile, elected leaders continue to ignore exploding inflation, that our national debt continues to grow, and interest payments on the debt will start to rapidly increase when the Fed has to start raising interest rates to try to slow down runaway inflation,” he said.

Manchin began his remarks by expressing his exasperation with a process that has stretched from early this past summer.

“In all my years of public service, I’ve never seen anything like this,” the senator said. “The president of the United States has addressed the House Democratic Caucus twice to urge action on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

“Last week, the speaker urged the importance of voting and passing the bill before the president took the world stage overseas,” he continued.

“And still no action,” Manchin said.

“In my view, this is not how the United States Congress should operate. The political games must stop. Twice now, the House has balked at the opportunity to send the bipartisan infrastructure legislation to the president,” he added.

Manchin went on to say he believes he’s been straightforward about his concerns over the reconciliation package, and said he simply can’t support one that “expands social programs and irresponsibly adds to our nearly $29 trillion in national debt that no one else seems to care about.” 

“Nor will I support a package that risks hurting American families suffering from historic inflation. Simply put, I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact it will have on our national debt, our economy and the American people,” he said.

“Every elected representative needs to know what they are voting for and the impact it has, not only on their constituents, but the entire country,” he said.

Turning back to the infrastructure bill, Manchin said he’s worked hard to find a path to compromise, but that it is “obvious” compromise is “not good enough for some in Congress.”

“It’s all or nothing, and their position doesn’t seem to change unless we agree to everything. Enough is enough,” he said. “It’s time our elected leaders in Washington stop playing games with the needs of the American people and holding a critical infrastructure bill hostage, while there is opportunity in the reconciliation bill we can all agree on.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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