Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat, pledged to block President Biden‘s infrastructure bill if the planned multitrillion-dollar measure does not garner support from any Republicans.
In an interview with Axios that aired Sunday, Manchin said he’ll insist GOP lawmakers have more of a voice on Biden’s next package than they did on the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that Democrats are passing via budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority.
“I’m not going to do it through reconciliation,” Manchin, D-W.Va., said. “I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them out completely before we start.”
Manchin, who has become one of the most powerful members of the 50-50 Senate, said he believed that it would be possible to get 10 Republicans to support an infrastructure bill and reach the 60-vote threshold needed to avoid a filibuster: “I sure do.”
Biden is reportedly laying the groundwork for another massive economic relief package, with senior Democratic officials proposing as much as $3 trillion in new spending on a jobs and infrastructure bill that would become the foundation of Biden’s “Build Back Better” program, according to The Washington Post, citing three people familiar with the matter.
It’s unclear what the measure would include, but on the campaign trail, Biden emphasized the need for new infrastructure investments and measures to combat climate change, as well as ways to revitalize the manufacturing industry and revamp housing, education and health care.
The White House has declined to comment on what the next big legislative priority is.
But the infrastructure proposal is sure to ignite a firestorm of criticism from Republicans, and possibly some moderate Democrats, who are worried about the exorbitant level of government spending.
The legislation would be in addition to the $1.9 trillion relief plan that congressional Democrats are aiming to pass by mid-March, as well as the nearly $4 trillion in stimulus measures under former President Donald Trump.
The nation’s deficit totaled a record $3.1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, and the national debt is on track to hit $28 trillion.
Manchin said the infrastructure bill can be big — roughly $4 trillion — so long as it’s paid for with tax increases, including raising the corporate tax rate to 25% from 21% “at least” and repealing portions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans.
He said he would start his bargaining by demanding that the package be 100% paid for. Otherwise, he said, the nation’s skyrocketing debt could trigger “a tremendous deep recession that could lead into a depression if we’re not careful.”