Democrats at Each Others Necks Over Spending Bill

As West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin heads for a Monday meeting with President Biden, he is expressing serious misgivings about the framework of the Democrats’ environmental and social spending measure.

Can they figure it out before Christmas?

The phone discussion with Biden and Manchin arrives at a critical time, with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushing for action before Christmas. Manchin made it very clear on Monday he isn’t convinced about the $1.7 trillion plan.

In a 50-50 Senate, the centrist lawmaker is the key dissenter on the party-line bill, citing concerns about growing debt, continuing inflation, and the package’s true costs. Manchin labeled a Friday Congressional Budget analysis on the bill’s probable 10-year price “sobering.”

He didn’t sound like someone prepared to send the Democrat measure to Biden’s desk without the need for a lot of revisions, at least. In a statement to fellow Democrats, Manchin said, “Everybody has to select essentially what we can tolerate.”

Democrats stated they would continue to work with the committee in order to complete the bill this week. Democrats are also working hard to pass measures across the end zone before the end of December.

Interestingly, Manchin never asked Schumer to hold the discussion of the bill until January, nor did he suggest that he would vote against anyone in his speech. He’s still talking to his friends and leaving his options open, which is typical of Manchin.

The data supports Manchin

Manchin’s financial worries have been heightened by two recent studies.

According to the CBO, extending the provisions in the Democrats’ package would add $3 trillion to the deficit. In November, commodity prices soared, pushing inflation to its highest level since 1982.

Democrats and the White House said the bill’s provisions will be paid for if it’s prolonged; they also claim inflation is at an all-time high and will soon begin to decline.

Aside from his own issues, Manchin will listen to the president as the rest of Washington waits for the two Joes to speak. He made a big point of referring to Biden as a “buddy” and praising the president’s 36 years as a lawmaker.

Biden does not appear to share Manchin’s worries at this time. Biden will “make a case for why the administration believes this bill should go forward,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Even as Manchin’s remarks create fresh concerns about Schumer’s ability to meet his Christmas target, Senate Democrats are still hustling to put together a measure that could see floor action this year.

Two parties submitted new legislative text over the weekend; however, it omitted a planned agreement on state and local taxes and also included paid vacation, which Manchin seeks to exclude from the social spending package.