WASHINGTON – A Democratic senator vital to the fate of President Joe Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion plan for social and environmental spending said on Sunday he would not support even half that amount or the ambitious timetable envisioned for its passage .
The position of Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., has been called unacceptable by the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who is helping to craft the measure. But Democrats have no voice to spare if they are to implement Biden’s massive ‘build back better’ agenda, with the Senate split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaker ‘there is no Republican support.
As congressional committees worked towards Wednesday’s target set by party leaders for the bill to be drafted, Manchin made his point clear, in a series of televised interviews, that he didn’t There was “no way” that Congress would meet the end-September target of House Speaker Nancy. Pelosi, D-Calif., For the passage.
“I cannot support $ 3.5 trillion,” Manchin said, citing in particular his opposition to a proposal to increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and massive new social spending.
“We should be looking at everything, and we’re not doing it. We don’t need to rush and do it in a week because there is a deadline that we meet, or someone is going to slip through the cracks, ”he said.
Pressed repeatedly over a total he could support, Manchin said, “It’s going to be $ 1.15 (trillion).” He then suggested the range was based on a modest increase in the corporate tax rate to 25%, a figure he said will keep the United States competitive globally.
“The numbers they want to pay and the tax changes they want to make, is that competitive? Manchin asked. “I think some changes have been made that don’t allow us to remain competitive. “
But Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who drafts the budget bill, noted that he and other members of the liberal flank of Congress initially called for an even stronger $ 6 trillion package.
“I don’t think that’s acceptable to the president, to the American people, or to the overwhelming majority of people in the Democratic caucus,” Sanders said. He added: “I think we are all going to sit down and work together and come up with a $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that addresses the hugely unmet needs of working families.”
The current master plan proposes billions to rebuild infrastructure, tackle climate change and expand or introduce a range of services, from free preschool to dental, vision and hearing care for the elderly.
Manchin voted last month to approve a budget resolution that fixed the figure, although he and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, expressed reservations about the amount of turnover. All of this would be paid for with taxes on corporations and the rich.
Congressional committees have been working hard this month on slices of the 10-year proposal in a bid to meet this week’s schedule of Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., to make write the bill. Pelosi is looking to get a House vote by Oct. 1, near the Sept. 27 target to vote on a thinner infrastructure plan favored by moderates.
Manchin, who in an op-ed earlier this month called for a “strategic pause” on the legislation to reconsider the cost, called the timeline unrealistic. He urged Congress to act first on a nearly $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill already passed by the Senate. But Liberal Democrats have threatened to withhold support until the $ 3.5 trillion spending bill is passed at the same time.
Neither side revealed on Sunday how they hope to quickly bridge the gap between Democrats.
“There is no way to do this by the 27th, if we do our job,” Manchin said. “There are so many differences that we have here and so much – there is so much outside of us where we are. … I work with people. I am ready to talk to people. It does not mean anything. “
Manchin has spoken on CNN’s “State of the Union”, NBC’s “Meet the Press” and ABC’s “This Week”. Sanders was on CNN and ABC.