Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin blasted progressive Democrats on Monday, accusing them of holding a bipartisan infrastructure bill hostage and vowing not to support President Biden’s $1.75 trillion budget reconciliation package without “greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects of inflation and debt” on the economy.
“I have worked in good faith for the past three months with President Biden, Leader [Chuck] Schumer, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and my colleagues on the reconciliation bill, and I will continue to do so,” he said in a brief press conference.
“For the sake of the country, I urge the House to vote and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Holding this bill hostage is not going to work and getting my support for the reconciliation bill,” Manchin told reporters.
The West Virginia Democrat slammed the House progressives — led by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — who have vowed to vote against the infrastructure package until the reconciliation bill is passed, saying, “It’s time to pass a bill, quit playing games.”
Manchin has played a key role in whittling down what was expected to be a $3.5 trillion social spending plan to $1.75 trillion, expressing reservations over a number of provisions including the top number and language to provide paid family leave without work requirements and the expansion of Medicare that could remain far longer than suggested in the bill.
“What I see are shell games, budget gimmicks that make the real cost of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be almost twice that amount,” he said.
“It’s time to pass a bill, quit playing games,” he said.